Nine teams from six Dublin schools (Holy Child, Blackrock College, Loreto on the Green, Gonzaga College, St Gerard's and Loreto Foxrock) competed in the inaugural Gonzaga College/Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School school’s team racing event for the Shanahan Cup on 16 January 2019. Sailing in the Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School’s fleet of Topper Topaz Vibe dinghies, the teams faced testing conditions in a cold northwesterly wind which ranged from two to 20–knots.
Vincent Delany kicked off the day with a hugely informative briefing to all sailors before heading to sea as, for some. this was their first experience of team racing. After a short delay, the fleet assembled in the training area of Dun Laoghaire Harbour where the course was pre-laid and ready for action.
Notwithstanding that many of the young sailors had suffered dunkings during the numerous capsizes in the early races the youngsters seemed oblivious to the cold and a lively party continued all day on Lula Belle, one of the INSAPS’s fleet of cruising yachts which was tied alongside the pontoon in the training area of Dun Laoghaire Harbour. Hot chocolate and warm treats were on supply day round which gave sailors the chance to warm up ahead of their next race. The large pontoon ensured swift turnarounds of crews between dinghies before the next race.
Pool I was very closely fought and resulted in a three-way sail off between Blackrock College, Gonzaga B and Loreto on the Green, with Blackrock emerging as the victors.
Pool II was dominated by a powerful Gonzaga A team who won all their races and then faced Blackrock in the final. In a hotly contested start, Blackrock suffered an OCS of one of their boats which left them with too much catching up to do and Gonzaga emerged winners.
Speaking after the event Kenneth Rumball of the Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School emphasized the huge opportunities that existed in schools sailing. “Team racing represents a fantastic opportunity for young people to develop key sailing skills and to do it in a format that builds friendships and healthy rivalry between schools”
At the prizegiving, Fiachra Etchingham of Gonzaga College commended the high standard of sailing but emphasized that equally important was the younger and less experienced sailors who went out in difficult conditions and “gave it a go”.
Presenting the trophy Liam Shanahan encouraged the competitors not to focus too much on the results but to look at sailing as lifelong sport which afforded them opportunities to make friends and have fun.
Dublin Secondary Schools are renowned for various sports and in particular for team sports. However, when one looks at the full range of sports played in Dublin schools, there are very few sports where girls compete against boys on equal terms. Sailing is one sport where they sail on equal terms.
50+ youngsters left the Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School with smiles on their faces looking forward to next year!
"not to focus too much on the results but to look at sailing as a lifelong sport which afforded them opportunities to make friends and have fun"
The event could not have taken place with mention of some key contributors. Fiachra Etchingham was the mastermind and instigator to which the event would not have taken place without his vision. Vincent Delany brought his considerable knowledge of team racing to ensure everything was set for the event to run smoothly as well as leading the team of highly experienced umpires. The Irish National Sailing and Powerboat School provided all the equipment facilities and logistical support. Liam Shanahan for his love of the sport sponsored the inaugural event.
The winning Gonzaga team was:
Jack Fahy, Andrew Conan
Henry Higgins, Finn Cleary
Tom Higgins, Con Murphy
Special thanks should go to the volunteers on the day comprising of;
Mark Delany, Tom Fitzpatrick, Trisha Kelly, Patricia Lawler, Michael Tyrell, Alistair Rumball, James Linton, Jill Fleming and a team of Gonzaga mothers who gave up the day out of their busy schedules to make the event such a success!