I’ve travelled around the country extensively these last few months, and seeing the number of boats on the water as well as the obvious optimism and enthusiasm, is fantastic. Volunteers remain the pivoting factor to the success of so many events. From those hosted by the larger yacht clubs like the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, one of the largest events in Europe this season, to the Sovereign’s Cup in Kinsale or the ICRA Championships in Crosshaven, to WIORA hosted by Club Seoltóireacht Árann on Inis Mór, Glandore YC’s Classic Regatta, and Calves Week organised by Schull SC, to numerous dinghy Regional and National Championships, it’s been a great season. All around the country, with the backing of sponsors at all levels, clubs are providing great sailing, training, competition, enjoyment and the all-important “fun” which is key to our sport.
The culmination of this event-filled summer came in October with the hosting of our All Ireland Sailing Championships in Mullingar Sailing Club. This unique event, now in its 70th year, saw sixteen of our national champions race against each other in this year’s chosen boat, the GP14. A very pleased Fionn Lyden, of Baltimore Sailing Club, was the winner of a tense and close fought competition beating the defending champion Alex Barry into second place. Fionn now joins Alex and a long list of previous champions, from Anthony O’Leary and Nicholas O’Leary in recent years through to Olympic veterans Mark Mansfield and Mark Lyttle. The talent coming up through the ranks was represented the week before at the Junior All Ireland Sailing Championships at Fastnet Marine Outdoor Education Centre, where local Cork sailor Micheal O'Suilleabhain of Kinsale Yacht Club claimed the title.
The inaugural Watersports Inclusion Games in June in Dun Laoghaire saw 80 volunteers providing activities for over 220 participants with various abilities on the physical, sensory, intellectual and learning difficulty spectrums. The participants and their families had a chance to try sailing, rowing and canoeing, and showcased how sailing really is a sport for all and a sport for life. The Games were such a success that we’ve been shortlisted for the annual CARA Inclusion Awards.
Internationally too Irish sailors are making an impact. Currently competing in the Volvo Ocean Race are Damian Foxall in his sixth race, on board Vestas 11th Hour, while Annalise Murphy sails her first race joining the crew of Turn the Tide on Plastic. We’ll be profiling all Irish involvement in the race on our website over the coming weeks.
As I write this blog, Tom Dolan is currently lying fifth in the Mini Transat Race. This is going to be an exciting race to follow over the coming days as the race reaches its climax, finishing in Martinique. Tom is aiming for a podium finish which now looks very achievable. Good luck Tom from all of us!