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#laser – In the first of the day's two races the Laser start was rather congested at the pin end. Perhaps a few too many had watched Hugh Sheehy's OK Dinghy cross the fleet with a perfectly executed port end flyer and were tempted to try the same. However a right-hand shift mid-way up the first beat meant that Hodgins, who started safely in the middle of the line, was ahead at the first cross.

The right appeared to pay on the second half of the beat and Harding lead from Cahill at the first mark with Hodgins a close third. There were big gains and losses at the corners but Harding kept close tabs on Cahill whilst sticking to the middle of the race track to hang on for the win, with Cahill second, Hodgins third and Hudson fourth.

The second race started in similar fashion with a significant port end bias leading to some struggling to cross the line on starboard. With big shifts still dominating the middle seemed to be the safest place to be and Harding lead round the first mark again from Cahill and Hodgins. With plenty of traffic around, nerves across the fleet were frayed on the run as the wind dropped to around 5-6knts.

On the second beat, Hodgins gambled on the right hand side and started the second lap in the lead with Cahill having squeezed past Harding to remain second. As the leading two fought for clear air down the run, Harding was allowed to close up and the first three rounded the bottom mark in quick succession. All three tacked quickly and Harding led out to the left although Hodgins soon tacked right looking to repeat his gains of the previous lap. This time however the wind swung left giving Harding had a decent advantage at the final windward mark which he held to the finish with Cahill second followed by Hodgins. Malcolm (fourth) and Vedo (fifth) pushed Hudson down to 6th.

Hudson now leads the second series after six races with 22pts.


Race Report by Richard Harding

Published in Laser
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#kinsalesailing  – Wild conditions for the penultimate day's racing have will bring Kinsale Yacht Club's Frostbite Series to a fitting climax next Saturday.

Yestrerday, for the ASM sponsored series, the wind was steady South South West and varied in strength from 14 to 25 knots. The Race Committee reported that competitors were extremely eager on the start line resulting in several individual recalls.

Colm Dunne & Rob Gill (KYC) are runaway leaders in the Squib fleet in Allegro with a current total of a perfect 9 points for 9 races after discards are applied. The next closest Squib is Lazurus with Colm Daly & Marcus Hutchinson (KYC) on a total of 21 points. Finny and Colm O'Regan (KYC) are in third place with 24 points in Fagin. These 3 boats have broken away from the rest of the fleet with a gap of 19 points between the 3rd and 4th boats. The real battle at this stage is for 4th place with Breakaway (Julie Silfverberg & Liz Bond KYC) on 43 points, Espresso ( Ruth Ennis & Victor Fusco KYC) on 44 points and Pulpo ( Tom Roche & Bobby Nash KYC) also on 44 points.

A similar trend has emerged in the Full Laser fleet with KYC Sean Murphy taking a resounding lead on 12 points followed by Inniscarra James Long on 26 points. Ian Travers (KYC) is in third place with 29 points, Monkstown's Paul O'Sullivan is in 4th with 32 points which is some 30 points ahead of the 5th boat.
The Laser Radials competitors stayed at home today and only two 4.7's came to the race area. Despite not racing today, Billy Duane (RCYC) still holds first position on 10 points. Ben Hunt (KYC) is in second position on 17 points followed by Jamie Tingle (RCYC) on 41 points.
The series ends next Saturday with the final 3 races, there will be a prize giving in the Club House afterwards.

Published in Kinsale

#kinsale – For the second Sunday in a row the gales obligingly passed over to allow racing to proceed in the ASM Frostbite Series. The Race Officers reported that the winds were between 14 and 20 knots and West South West. There were no shifts and the course remained unchanged for all 3 races.
The Laser fleet proved to be a little over enthusiastic in their first race with the OD issuing a general recall. The Kinsale harbour seal came to play at the start of the second race and caused a little excitement amongst the fleet.
Sean Murphy (KYC) is the runaway leader (13pts) in the Laser Full Rig class with 7 bullets out of a possible 9. James Long (Inniscarra) lies in second on 19 points followed closely by Ian Travers (KYC) on 20 pts.
The Laser Radials returned to the race course today with Sorcha Ni Shilleabhain (KYC) taking first place with 6 pts. Sorcha has just returned from Miami and the ISAF Olympic qualifiers where she put in a magnificent performance finishing 45th overall, undoubtedly a star in the making! Cliodna O'Regan (KYC) lies in second place on 11 points and Sean Gambier Ross (KYC) follows closely with 12 points.
Billy Duane (RCYC) has powered ahead in the Laser 4.7 fleet with 8 bullets out of a possible 9 giving him a total of 7 points after discards. Ben Hunt (KYC) lies in second on 17 points and Jamie Tingle (RCYC) is third with 25 points.
The Squibs had a small fleet on the water today with only 6 boats making the start line. However this remains a hotly contested class. Allegro (Colm Dunne & Rob Gill KYC) took the honours again with 3 bullets today giving them 8 points overall. Lazurus ( Colm Daly & Marcus Hutchinson KYC) lie in second place with 15 points. KYC Commodore Finny O'Regan and his son Colm are placed third in their Squib Fagin with 23 points.

Published in Kinsale
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#laser – Irish Laser London 2012 rep James Espey has taken a personal best of 31st overall at the Mens Laser worlds in Oman, an event that will be remembered for the return of Brazilian sailing legend Robert Scheidt to the top of world Laser sailing. Espey finished finished with his best race of the series in 12th to conclude his 2013 season, another step on the road to Rio 2016.

Scheidt was crowned 2013 Laser World Champion in Oman for the ninth time (and 18 years after his first victory) after winning the final race of the regatta then proclaimed this Laser World Championship title as his best so far.

The 40 year-old Brazilian sailor started the last race just one point ahead of rival Pavlos Kontides but put in a flawless performance to win by two boat lengths, raising the Brazilian flag as he crossed the line to a round of cheers and applause from spectators and other competitors.

"This feels more special than any of the other Laser Worlds I have won," said Scheidt, who returned to the Lasers after nine years in the Star class to compete at an Olympic Games in his home waters in Rio de Janeiro.

"I am at a different stage of my life – being a dad and being away from Laser sailing all these years makes it more special.

"I didn't know what to expect when I came back into the Lasers but winning the Worlds after a tough seven days means a lot.

"Rio is still a long way off and I shall have to see how my body holds up over the next few years but the next Olympic Games in Rio is definitely how I want to end my career."

Had there been no racing at Mussanah Beach, his one point lead overnight would have earned him the championship and with ten minutes to go before the 3pm cut off time, there was no sign of any racing due to the light and shifty breeze.

But at 2.56pm the start gun was fired and Scheidt, Kontides and third-placed Tonci Stipanovic from Croatia all made good starts

"I had a good start which was key," he explained

"Started in the middle and played the first shifts well which put me in the leading group at the top mark. I managed to get ahead and protected my position. It was a tense race because the breeze was very flukey going right and left and the race committee did well to wait for the breeze to stabilize. The moment we started we had the best breeze we'd had all day but it was still very shifty."

Kontides finished the race in 13th place to take the silver medal, trailing Scheidt by 13 points and while paying tribute to the Brazilian said he felt the odds were against him continuing to dominate in the way he had in Oman.

"He sailed a perfect race so well done to him," said the 23 year-old Cypriot who was completing his studies in Ship Science at the same time as preparing for the Worlds.

"But with some consistent training, I will be able to up my game and I know next season I will be much better. I am still learning and developing and Robert is at the peak of his game. Age wise he is 40 and at some stage will start to decline whereas I am 23 and on the up so the odds are against him.

"I decided the conditions were too tricky for any tactics – we have seen all week how the conditions demand proper sailing and a respect for the oscillating shifts so I thought the best thing to do was to do my best.

"I really wanted to taste the gold medal but I will be trying my hardest again next time."

Germany's Phillip Buhl won the bronze medal after finishing 10th in the final race which put him level on points with Rutger Schaardenburg from the Nederlands. Better results over the week gave him the advantage but it was bouncing back from being BFD in the final race on Friday that gave him most pleasure.

"I had a bad day on Friday so I'm very surprised to finish third," he said.

"I am not the best light winds sailor or at least I wasn't but I've improved and I am better now in all conditions. Having Robert Scheidt back in the fleet is good fun – beating him is more fun than beating anyone else and we can learn a lot from him. He really deserved to win here."

The prize-giving at the Al Mussanah Sports City where Scheidt, Kontides and Buhl were all presented with their medals, brought the curtain down on a tough but highly successful Laser World Championships, the first sailing championships to be hosted in Oman.

Published in Olympic

#laserworlds – Robert Scheidt sounded a warning to his Rio 2016 rivals today with an emphatic win at the 2013 Laser Standard World Championships in Oman, which moved him five places up the leaderboard into second place. Ireland's sole entry, James Espey lies 33rd overall.

Day 2 of the championships, which was also Oman's National Day, brought a change at the top after light winds at Mussanah Sports City caused postponements and frustration among competitors, resulting in ten disqualifications from four false starts in the only race of the day.

These included overnight leader Nick Thompson of Britain who dropped down to 34th place as well as former Laser World Champion Gustavo Lima from Portugal.

Croatian Tonci Stipanovic won his race in the Yellow fleet to take over the leader's yellow jersey while Pavlos Kontides from Cyprus maintained his consistent form to retain third overall. All three leaders are equal on 10 points each but Stipanovic's two outright wins in three races places him top.

Racing was postponed for three hours due to the breeze which was less than 5 knots when the first race was due to begin. But when the fleet finally got out onto the race course, the sea breeze had kicked in, remaining stable throughout a hot and sunny afternoon and building to around 13 knots.

Scheidt, eight times Laser World Champion, was delighted with his performance having led off the line and staying in front throughout. It confirmed that despite his nine year break from the Laser class and despite being 40 years old, he has a strong chance of qualifying for the Olympic Games on his home waters in Rio.

"To win a race at the Laser World Championships in this sort of breeze, you have to be fast and you have to be fit so I think I have my game back and I know it will be extremely hard but this makes me think I have a chance," he said.

"I had a good start, was clean off the line and managed to play the shifts well on the first upwind so was already in the lead at the first mark which made my life a lot easier.

"I managed to use my speed downwind and the second beat was more of a controlling race with the Croatian guy and the guy from Cyprus so I'm pretty happy. It is nice to win a race but the regatta has only just started."

The high number of disqualifications so early in the regatta was a result of frustration and the tricky conditions, Scheidt confirmed.

"It was a combination of people being aggressive and a little bit of current pushing them across the line – they didn't realize how close to the line they were which was why so many people got disqualified.

"It was tough to get a disqualification at the beginning of a regatta like that but I should think they will be a lot more careful from now on."

Thompson agreed he had taken a gamble that failed to pay off and was realistic about its implications.

"It was a close call but you couldn't call it bad luck or misfortune," admitted Thompson who has set his sights on winning the 2013 Laser World title, having missed out three times despite finishing on the podium.

"Of course I am disappointed because the black flag disqualification makes my life a lot harder from now."

Germany's Phillip Buhl staged a strong recovery after his disappointment of finishing 17th in Race 2 on Sunday with a third (yellow) in Race 3 but was frustrated when race officers cancelled the second race due the lack of time available.

"I am very happy with this result but I would have loved to have raced again because these are my favourite conditions and suit me well," he said.

He was lying second for most the race but fell to third just before the finish when Brazil's Bruno Fontes edged ahead with a surge of speed downwind.

"Hopefully in the long run it won't matter but the main thing was to be among the leaders because it was important for me to come back from finishing 17th on Sunday."

The qualifying races continue on Tuesday with two scheduled for each day until Wednesday. The finals series starts on Thursday with the last two showdowns set for Saturday.

Published in Olympic
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#lasersailing – The return of Brazilian sailing legend Robert Scheidt to Laser competition after nine years in the Star class has raised the stakes among the 2016 Olympic Games contenders at the Laser Standard Men's World Championships 2013 starting in the Sultanate of Oman on Sunday November 17, organized and hosted by the Ministry of Sports Affairs and Oman Sail.

Having won eight world titles and three Olympic medals in the class, the 40 year-old Scheidt is the most successful Laser sailor of all time. With the dropping of the Star class from the Olympic rota, he has now returned to Lasers to qualify for the Olympics on his home waters in Rio de Janeiro and is currently ranked number 71 Laser sailor in the world.

In his sights for the 2013 Laser World Championship title will be Australian national champion Tom Burton, who has been number one in the Laser world rankings for more than a year and who showed a fondness for the conditions in Oman when he won 2013 Mussanah Race Week (MRW) back in March.

The two champions have met just once in the heat of international battle when Burton won gold to Scheidt's silver at the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Hyeres France in April 2013, paving the way for a tantalising rematch in what is a star-studded Laser fleet.

Of the 50 top ranked Laser sailors in the world, 46 of them will be on the start line at Mussanah Sports City in Oman, the world class sailing facility purpose built to Olympic standards, which is hosting its first ever sailing world championships.

Australia's formidable Laser squad, boasting five sailors in the world's top 20 are set for an intense week with Ryan Palk (5), Matthew Wearn (7) and Ashley Brunning (8) and Jared West (15) all at an advantage after finishing in the top 10 at MRW.

Britain, which since 2000 has produced two Olympic gold medal winners in Ben Ainslie and Paul Goodison, is also fielding a strong contingent with seven sailors in a team of eight ranked in the top 50 in the world. Both Alex Mills Barton (12) and Nick Thompson (17) will be keen to draw first blood at this early stage of their Olympic cycles.

Germany's Phillip Buhl, the 2012 European Laser Champion, won Kiel Week in June beating Scheidt into second place and will be looking to use the Laser Worlds to hoist himself up the rankings from his current 20th place.

Scheidt may have his sights set on being the best in the world but first he has to prove he is the best in Brazil by fighting off the challenge from countryman Bruno Fontes who recently rose from 9th to 3rd in the rankings after winning the Central & South American Laser Championships Higuerillas in Chile in September.

Fontes also finished 5th at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami and also in Palma and was 6th in Hyeres so the battle of the Brazilians will most certainly be one to watch in the steady breeze of Oman where conditions could be similar to Rio.

Sweden's Jesper Stalheim, ranked 4th, has had a stellar year, winning the recent ISAF Sailing World Cup Test Event in Santander, the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami and the Laser Europa Cup while Croatian Tonci Stipanović, who shot up the rankings from 14th to 2nd after winning the ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao in China earlier this month is at the top of his game having come third in Hyeres and 4th in Palma.

Also in the running for the world title is Jean-Baptiste Bernaz who represented France at the Beijing and London Olympics, where he came tenth.

Closer to home, the exciting development of Oman's young sailors will be propelled onto the world stage with the Sultanate's only world ranked Laser sailor Hussain Al Jabri and team mates Ahmed Al Hassani and Ahmed Al Balushi all proudly flying the flag for Oman.

Under the tutelage of Oman Sail, their progress has been remarkable. Al Jabri, 25, who only learnt to sail in 2011 when he joined Oman Sail, was voted this year's winner of Oman's first ever Sailor of the Year Awards. Al Hassani sailed on board the Formula 18 (F18 catamaran) before joining Oman Sail's elite offshore crew on board Oman Air-Musandam (MOD70trimaran).

The 39th edition of the Laser World Championships is one of the largest dinghy sailing sporting events and the first sailing world championships ever held in the Sultanate of Oman. Over the course of seven weeks, Al Mussanah Sports City will play host to 390 of the world's best sailors from 51 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, North, South and Central America contesting for the highest honours.

Published in Laser
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#ballyholme – Northern Ireland's largest open dinghy series began on Belfast Lough today with 49 Lasers competing in Ballyhome's Icebreaker series.  Gareth Flannigan was the winner of today's first race with Hammy Baker second and Chris Boyd third in the standard class. Tim Brow was the radial winner and James Moore won the 4.7 fleet.

The series runs though to Sunday 30th March with 22 races.  This year an F18 Multihull fleet are gearing up for the F18 worlds at Ballyholme YC in June 2014. Adrian Allen won the first race. The results are here

Published in Racing

#laser – National Champion Christopher Penney discusses his preparations for the recent Irish Laser Nationals at Royal Cork Yacht Club, and Colin Leonard, Irish Laser Association Honorary Treasurer, (and sixth at the Nationals) discusses the classes profile in Ireland.

Preparation for the event started in September 2012 after a relatively poor finish to the season in the Irish nationals. I identified fitness as my biggest weakness and getting up to optimum weight was my biggest priority. Over the winter I worked on this in the gym and gained the 4 kilograms I needed to be competitive.

Due to my coaching role with RYA NI most of my weekends were occupied coaching the up and coming laser sailors in Northern Ireland therefore I didn't get as much time in my Laser as I hoped. Not that I am complaining, coaching is very rewarding work and I enjoy every minute of it! Although I lacked hours on the water my mind was always engaged on the sport and coaching actually helped develop tactics, strategy and other important aspects of the sport.

In the lead up to the Nationals I competed in all 4 provincial championships. I finished fourth in the first two events of the season the Munsters in Baltimore and the Ulsters in Carlingford Lough Yacht Club. I went on to win the Leinster championships held in Wexford and the Connacht championships held in Lough Ree. This was a great confidence boost going into the nationals.

The Laser class has had a strong presence in Ireland since the beginnings of the class, with many Irish sailors also competing at the front of international competition. A trend continued today by the likes of Annalise Murphy, Finn Lynch, Robbie Gilmore and Fionn Lyden in the Radials, whilst James Espey represented Ireland in the Standard Rig at London 2012.

Closer to home the class has gone from strength to strength, and the decision for the Laser Radial to be both the boys and girls ISAF youth class has seen ever increasing numbers at our four regional events and over 150 competitors in Cork for the national championships. There are also many parents coming back to the class to join their children on the water. There is a Masters championship for these hardy characters to focus on their own results rather than keeping an eye on their children, and enjoy a more relaxed social event with their friends!

The recent European and World Championships at the National Yacht Club were a huge success, with athletes from all over the world praising the race management and logistics of the clubs. This publicity reflects well on Irish sailing as a whole and brings laser sailing in Ireland to the fore. Anyone wishing to try a laser should go to www.laser-ireland.com where contact details for regional representatives and committee members can be found, all of whom will happily point you in the direction of a club nearby for you or your family to join the biggest one design class in the world!

Published in Laser
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#LaserEuros2013 – Annalise Murphy goes into the final races of the Laser European and World Championships tomorrow on her native Dublin Bay with a comprehensive 17 point lead ahead of Holland's Olympic silver medallist Marit Bowmeester.

With the prospect of a breezy finale on the waters off Dun Laoghaire Murphy is looking to resume the same kind of form which has led to seven wins from her nine starts here and convert her big lead to her first major Laser Radial title. A disappointing 27th in today's light breezes is her discardable result.

In contrast the contest for the titles and trophies in the Olympic men's fleet is very delicately poised after two tricky races in light and unpredictable northerly winds today which made consistency very elusive. Indeed of the top ten sailors in the Men's fleet all sailed one good result and one poor, discarded race.

As Britain's Nick Thompson promoted himself to the top of the standings with a second place in the second of their pair of races today to earn a two points margin ahead of Croatia's Tonci Stipanovic and three up on Holland's Rutger Schaardenburg, Brazil's Robert Scheidt returned to shore frustrated to have scored his second poor result in consecutive days. After winning the first race he fell into a wind hole in the second contest and struggled to a 24th.

Scheidt, who will bid for his ninth Laser world title in Oman in November, has returned to the class after seven years in the Star keelboat. He believes that racing in amongst most of the best in the class at the moment he is close to being back to his best, but needs to polish up on his consistency.

"I think that independent of tomorrow's results I have the chance to win regattas the way that I am sailing." Scheidt confirmed today, "I think that I have already proven this week that I sail well in strong winds, I can sail well in light winds. I am still not as consistent as I used to be but it shows the field is pretty open and I can still do well."

After taking time out from the Laser Thompson, who missed out on the British Sailing Team's selection to the last Olympics despite twice finishing runner up at consecutive World Championships behind Australia's Tom Slingsby, would love to mark his return with the first major title of his long and distinguished career. Since winning the 2004 ISAF Youth World title in 2004, Thompson has won world cup and international regattas but has yet to win a major class title.

"I am pleased with the way I have sailed at the event so far" Thompson said, "I have made few mistakes. The Worlds is the main focus but this event is hugely important, but for me it is nice to feel I am sailing back on top of my game again. The competition is great with Rutger, Scheidt and Tonci all up there and so I am looking to an interesting final day."

Thompson's pair of results – a 30th and a second – were characteristic of the day's highly unpredictable conditions. In the offshore northerly breeze, choosing the best side of the first beat was key but there were big holes in the breeze which summarily halted many of the top seeds in their tracks.

Croatia's Tonci Stipanovic, twice European champion in the past, has a slightly better discard in his locker, but Thompson has been better in the stronger breeze, scoring best of the fleet in Wednesday's wilder winds.

Although the men finished two races for the Olympic rigged fleets, the corresponding Women's Radial class only managed one because the fickle breeze died away too much. Murphy was disappointed not to have the chance to atone immediately for her disappointing 27th place, while Bouwmeester was also dismayed that only one race in her preferred lighter conditions was sailed.

The Dutch sailor said "It is a shame to only get one race. It looked like a bit of an early decision. That is a shame. It was a tricky race which reminded me a bit of Weymouth in the N'ly wind, so it was nice to race in that again. I was just in the top group at the windward mark and then got up to second on the second upwind. But we will be back hiking again tomorrow."

Annalise Murphy says she will change nothing for the decisive final day, concentrating on making better starts than today's which was the start of a frustrating downwards spiral which was concluded when she ran out of breeze close to the finish line. "It was difficult" Murphy said, " I had a bad start and struggled to get into the race in the first half, but made a good comeback on the second upwind, the last downwind and the reach to get into the top 15. But I was close to the finish line and then the wind died. I was not moving and could do nothing at all about it. I lost 15 places at the finish line and so that was disappointing. It was a shame not to get a second race in. The breeze came in but it is always hard to tell."

"I am disappointed with today. I would much preferred to have a 15th rather than a 27th or whatever it is. I will just have to get out there and have good races on the last day. I just need to get better starts than today's and try and not make any mistakes."

While Bouwmeester rose to second overall she is now just three points up on Britain's Ali Young.

In the Men's Laser Radial World Championship Australia's defending champion Tristan Brown won again to build his lead to 18 points. Ireland's Finn Lynch, the home club's ISAF Youth World Championships silver medallist leads the European Championship by two points ahead of Poland's three times world champion Marcin Rudawski. Lynch, who has climbed the rankings all week, is set for a place on the podium if her can maintain his current form in the final rounds.

Lynch, who sails from the National YC said "The conditions were very shifty and challenging conditions today. I had a good start and was in 10th at the first mark and then climbed to first but then dropped to third at the line. Tomorrow I am hoping for two solid races and to hold on to a podium position tomorrow."

Top three by class

Laser Radial Women's European Championship
1. Annalise Murphy, IRL, 9 points
2. Marit Bouwmeester, NED, 26
3. Alison Young, GBR, 29

Laser Radial Men's World Championship
1. Tristan Brown, AUS, 12
2. Finn Lynch, IRL, 30
3. Marcin Rudawski, POL, 32

Laser Standard Men's European Championship
1. Nick Thompson, GBR, 29
2. Tonci Stipanovic, CRO, 31
3. Rutger Schaardenburg, NED, 32

http://www.lasereuropeans2013.com/ for full results.

Published in Laser

#laserEuros13 – In scenes – and conditions – reminiscent of London 2012 just one year ago, Ireland's sailing hero Annalise Murphy was one of three sailors to have made the perfect start to their title challenge at the 2013 Laser European & World Championships on Dublin Bay today.

Annalise debuted with a double win in Weymouth at the start of the London Olympics in a memorable week for Irish sailing last year and yesterday she began her European championship campaign in home waters in the same powerful style.

Each of the three championship fleets sailed two races in offshore westerly winds which varied from 11 to 18 knots, the gusts carrying big changes in wind direction and pressure. Making early errors – reading the first shifts wrong, getting off the start lines poorly or choosing the wrong side of the first upwinds – proved most costly. Often the shape of the races were shaped by the first windward mark.

However Murphy cruised to two decisive wins in her Women's Laser Radial qualifying fleet and she was at home in every sense of the word, delivering a pair of results which – among other things – brought smiles to the army of 200 or so volunteers from her home clubs who have given their time to produce a memorable championships.

Murphy stepped clear of her fleet early on both of the first upwind legs and was able to extend a little in the first race. But in the second heat a knot in her mainsheet on the final run compromised her, being challenged by Belarus' World No. 1 Tatiana Drozkovskaya, but the Dublin sailor was able to sort herself out to hold on and win.

"It was pretty windy out there, windier than I expected, but also fun because the wind was flicking back and forwards and so if you got into phase. I like these conditions like today because it is something I grew up sailing with here and so it was fun, shifting offshore winds" Murphy reported, adding the same first caveat as her male counterparts.

"It is only the first day and I am happy not to have used up a discard or anything like that. It was a good day and I really have nothing to complain about. I was sailing well on the upwinds and I was sailing a lot of the shifts really well and that was the most important bit. That was important to get ahead. On the last downwind I got a big knot in my mainsheet and ended up going along pretty slowly and Tatiana caught up a lot with me, but I just managed to get here again at the finish line and won it" Murphy continued.

Annalise's coach Rory Fitzpatrick weighed up the pros and cons of racing a 'major' at home "It is nice for her to race on home waters because you do know the strategies which will pay off. It is nice to get the support with so many people we know around the place, but so too there is a bit of pressure and expectation with attention from the press and so on, but then that comes along with the Olympics and so on, so that is good practice. There are pros and cons to being at home, but most of all sleeping in our own beds outweighs everything. Annalise got good starts and was able to get off the start line and sail in phase with the winds, and just wait to cross the fleet, and she managed that both times".

Ireland's young ISAF Youth World's silver medallist Finn Lynch, also racing from his home club, started well with a first and a fifth in his Men's Laser Radial qualifier.

Holland's Rutger van Schaardenburg, considers that there was some Irish luck inspiring him as he posted two wins in very challenging, changeable breezes but the Dutch sailor who finished 14th at last year's Olympic regatta arrived ashore at the National YC in Dun Laoghaire admitted he has made better starts to big events but knows how little first day wins count for.

"To be honest it is the first day and you don't take too much from that. I had three wins in a row at the start in Tallinn before and finished 25th but I am happy with the way I sailed" smiled van Schaardneburg.

Van Schaardenberg and Sweden's Jesper Stalheim – European Championship runner up last year – may both have looked to be comfortably at home in the conditions when they were en route to their two wins apiece in their respective qualifying fleets, as Ireland's Annalise Murphy cruised to two decisive wins in her Women's Laser Radial qualifying fleet. She was at home in every sense of the word, delivering a pair of results which – among other things – brought smiles to the army of 200 or so volunteers from her home club who have given their time to produce a memorable championship.

While Stalheim felt his performance in the Men's Olympic class was comfortable enough, everything falling his way to the point it almost felt easy, Schaardenburg said he was thinking of Ireland's lucky shamrock. "For sure it was tricky conditions. You needed to have a bit of luck too and I was thinking about the Irish shamrock and of good luck a lot and it seemed to be on my side, but I have had good preparation too, but then it still needs to go the way you expect it to go. And it did" he said after racing.

"The first race started not so well but I got into the big shift to the left and was second at the top mark, got ahead on the downwind and it was all done. The second race I got a good start to the right and got to the right as I expected it and luckily enough it happened and from there I just extended. For me it is very nice way to start" he continued.

Swede Stalheim, ranked three in the world at the moment, believes his speed was the key today "My speed was good and a lot of the time it was just speed into the next shift. I started to windward and tacked away early for a speed race to the first shift and then I could cross the fleet. And in the second race it was speed race to the sift again and I was good".

"I started to windward and the wind was left and I just sailed to it until the right hander came and crossed the whole fleet. It felt quite easy though the Croatian guy Tonci was second about ten metres behind. But the rest of the fleet was quite far behind. There were big gaps."

"In the second race it was speed again, I got to the left and was into the shift and crossed over the whole fleet. It felt all quite easy."

Of those older, experienced sailors returning to the fray of top level racing after a break, Brazil's Robert Scheidt was disappointed to receive a penalty on the first reach of the first race, but sailed to a solid 4, 3 opening to share the same seven points tally as fourth to eighth placed sailors. The five times Olympic medallist from Brazil said "I did not sail really, really well on the first beats but I am happy. I got a penalty on the first reach so that was an unforced error and I am unhappy about that. A solid first day for me is OK."

Martin Evans is the best placed British sailor in the Men's Standard fleet, while 2010 and 2011's World Championships runner up Nick Thompson is enjoying his return to the class with his eyes firmly focused on Rio 2016. He found himself with a little to do early in both races, but was pleased with how he climbed through the fleets to open with a 5, 4 loving the chance to spar with Scheidt and Portuguese veteran Gustavo Lima again. He lies 11th overall.

"It was a pretty challenging day" Thompson affirmed, "But a fifth and fourth for me from my windward mark positions was good. It could have been a lot worse. I managed to dig in, to fight for every place and got a few good wind shifts which made a difference and pulled myself back in there".

"I have been doing a lot of training in Weymouth with the British team which has been really good, getting back into the boat and trying to getting up to speed again. I started back in Palma and so it has been good. I really am enjoying it to be racing against the new guys coming through, but also the old guys like Robert Scheidt and Gustavo Lima."

"I had a good battle with Robert, he was third, just ahead of me, and we were duking it out all the way around. Overall I am happy with the first day."

"The first race was about two big shifts which dictated your position and the second race there was a big shift off the start and that set up the race too, and so I was fighting back from that, from poor windward mark roundings. I think it is coming back nicely. It is great here. The racing will be interesting if it remains offshore."

Published in Olympic
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Page 37 of 48

Dun Laoghaire Regatta –  From the Baily lighthouse to Dalkey island, the bay accommodates eight separate courses for 25 different classes racing every two years for the Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

In assembling its record-breaking armada, Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta (VDLR) became, at its second staging, not only the country's biggest sailing event, with 3,500 sailors competing, but also one of its largest participant sporting events.

One of the reasons for this, ironically, is that competitors across Europe have become jaded by well-worn venue claims attempting to replicate Cowes and Cork Week.

'Never mind the quality, feel the width' has been a criticism of modern-day regattas where organisers mistakenly focus on being the biggest to be the best.

Dun Laoghaire, with its local fleet of 300 boats, never set out to be the biggest. Its priority focussed instead on quality racing even after it got off to a spectacularly wrong start when the event was becalmed for four days at its first attempt.

The idea to rekindle a combined Dublin bay event resurfaced after an absence of almost 40 years, mostly because of the persistence of a passionate race officer Brian Craig who believed that Dun Laoghaire could become the Cowes of the Irish Sea if the town and the local clubs worked together.

Although fickle winds conspired against him in 2005, the support of all four Dun Laoghaire waterfront yacht clubs since then (made up of Dun Laoghaire Motor YC, National YC, Royal Irish YC and Royal St GYC), in association with the two racing clubs of Dublin Bay SC and Royal Alfred YC, gave him the momentum to carry on.

There is no doubt that sailors have also responded with their support from all four coasts. Entries closed last Friday with 520 boats in 25 classes, roughly doubling the size of any previous regatta held on the Bay.

Running for four days, the regatta is (after the large mini-marathons) the single most significant participant sports event in the country, requiring the services of 280 volunteers on and off the water, as well as top international race officers and an international jury, to resolve racing disputes representing five countries.

Craig went to some lengths to achieve his aims including the appointment of a Cork man, Alan Crosbie, to run the racing team; a decision that has raised more than an eyebrow along the waterfront.

A flotilla of 25 boats has raced from the Royal Dee near Liverpool to Dublin for the Lyver Trophy to coincide with the event. The race also doubles as a RORC qualifying race for the Fastnet.

Sailors from the Ribble, Mersey, the Menai Straits, Anglesey, Cardigan Bay and the Isle of Man have to travel three times the distance to the Solent as they do to Dublin Bay. This, claims Craig, is one of the major selling points of the Irish event and explains the range of entries from marinas as far away as Yorkshire's Whitby YC and the Isle of Wight.

Until now, no other regatta in the Irish Sea area could claim to have such a reach. Dublin Bay weeks such as this petered out in the 1960s, and it has taken almost four decades for the waterfront clubs to come together to produce a spectacle on and off the water to rival Cowes.

"The fact that we are getting such numbers means it is inevitable that it is compared with Cowes," said Craig. However, there the comparison ends.

"We're doing our own thing here. Dun Laoghaire is unique, and we are making an extraordinary effort to welcome visitors from abroad," he added.

The busiest shipping lane in the country – across the bay to Dublin port – is to close temporarily to facilitate the regatta and the placing of eight separate courses each day.

A fleet total of this size represents something of an unknown quantity on the bay as it is more than double the size of any other regatta ever held there.

The decision to alter the path of ships into the port was taken in 2005 when a Dublin Port control radar image showed an estimated fleet of over 400 yachts sailing across the closed southern shipping channel.

Ships coming into the bay, including the high-speed service to the port, will use the northern lane instead.

With 3,500 people afloat at any one time, a mandatory safety tally system for all skippers to sign in and out will also operate.

The main attraction is undoubtedly the appearance of four Super Zero class yachts, with Dun Laoghaire's Colm Barrington's TP52 'Flash Glove' expected to head the 'big boat' fleet. At the other end of the technology scale, the traditional clinker-built Water Wags will compete just as they did at a similar regatta over 100 years ago.

The arrival of three TP 52s and a Rogers 46 to Dun Laoghaire regatta is a feather in the cap of organisers because it brings Grand Prix racing to Dublin bay and the prospect of future prominent boat fixtures on the East Coast.

With 38 entries, the new Laser SB3s are set to make a significant impact although the White Sail Class five almost rivals them numerically. The Fireball is the biggest dinghy class, with 27 entries, while there are 25 entries for the Ecover Half Ton Classics Cup which began on Monday.

Class 0 is expected to be the most hotly contested, if the recent Saab IRC Nationals, Scottish Series and Sovereign's Cup are any indication. Three Cork boats ­- Jump Juice (Conor and Denise Phelan), Antix Dubh (Anthony O'Leary) and Blondie (Eamonn Rohan) - are expected to lead the fleet.

(First published in 2009)

Who: All four Dun Laoghaire Waterfront Yacht clubs

What: Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta

Why: A combined regatta to make Dun Laoghaire the Cowes of the Irish Sea.

Where: Ashore at Dun Laoghaire and afloat at eight separate race courses on Dublin Bay. Excellent views from both Dun Laoghaire piers, Sandycove and Seapoint.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2021

The 2021 Regatta runs from 8-11 July

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