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International Performances of Dwyer Matthews & O'Shaughnessy Will Add Extra Spice to 29er Youth Nationals at Royal Cork

26th October 2021
James Dwyer Matthews leads the fleet at a 29er event in Cork Harbour earlier this year. Having scored high in international events, Dwyer Matthews and Ben O'Shaughnessy return to the harbour for more competition this week
James Dwyer Matthews leads the fleet at a 29er event in Cork Harbour earlier this year. Having scored high in international events, Dwyer Matthews and Ben O'Shaughnessy return to the harbour for more competition this week Credit: Bob Bateman

The top performance of James Dwyer Matthews and Ben O'Shaughnessy at the 29er Europeans in Italy this week will add extra spice to proceedings at the Investwise youth sailing championships at Royal Cork Yacht Club on Thursday. 

The Under 18 pair are lying in fourth place on Lake Garda as Afloat reports here and are within touch of the podium after seven races sailed. 

It makes them obvious favourites for Irish youth honours on home waters, especially since the pair also recorded a top 15 finish at the 29er World Championships in Spain in September. 

Royal Cork's James Dwyer Matthews and Ben O'Shaughnessy in action on Lake GardaRoyal Cork's James Dwyer Matthews and Ben O'Shaughnessy in action on Lake Garda this week

The majority of a fledgling Irish 29er class are racing at Riva del Garda, this week only returning to Ireland the day before the youth nationals test at RCYC. 

Five Irish boats are racing in Italy, with at least three also planning to compete in Crosshaven, so there will be no doubting the new skiff class is up to speed in Cork Harbour.  

Royal St. George Yacht Club's Emily and Jessica RiordanRoyal St. George Yacht Club's Emily and Jessica Riordan

Also competing in Italy and expected in Cork are Royal St. George Yacht Club's Emily and Jessica Riordan and Clementine van Steenberge and Chiara Carra. 

As well as Dun Laoghaire, entries from the 29er Fleet hail from Crosshaven, Blessington Sailing Club and a single entry from Northern Ireland.  

Double handed turnout

There will undoubtedly be some disappointment over the low turnout of the double-handed dinghy fleet (420 & 29er) for this year's Youth Nationals with only nine 420s and ten 29er entries based on provisional entries for the Royal Cork YC event starting this Thursday. 

In particular, the 420 entry is low given it had a record of 21 entries at their National Championship at Howth Yacht Club in August.

The reduced numbers may be accounted for since double handers have only recently attended a Lough Ree Yacht Club symposium designed especially for their needs.

Ben Graf on helm and Alexander Farrell on wire as they shape their champion International 420 for a start. Graf will try out a 29er at the youth nationals at CrosshavenBen Graf on the helm and Alexander Farrell on wire shape their champion International 420 for a start. Graf will try out a 29er at the youth nationals at Crosshaven.

Entries from the 420 fleet hail from; Malahide Yacht Club, Lough Ree Yacht Club, Blessington Sailing Club, Waterford Harbour Sailing Club & Wexford Harbour Sailing Club.

In an outcome from the Lough Ree symposium, perhaps, there's some experimentation between the two fleets going to take place in Cork with 420 National Champion, Ben Graf, crossing over to try his hand in a 29er skiff.

Four-course areas will operate in Cork Harbour Aghada, Curlane Bank, Cuskinny and Roches Point.

Racing begins on Thursday, October 28th, and as well as deciding national honours, the event serves as the second part of a qualifications system to determine Ireland's representative at the Youth World Sailing Championships in Oman this December.

Afloat.ie Team

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About the 29er Skiff Dinghy

The 29er is a one-design double-handed, single trapeze skiff for youth sailors.

There is an active class in Ireland, just one of the 38-countries from across all continents now racing the high-performance skiff.

The 29er is one of the latest dinghy classes to arrive in Ireland and has a 50/50 split between boys and girls.

The class like to describe the boat as "The most popular skiff for sailors who want to go fast!".

Derived from the Olympic class 49er class and designed by Julian Bethwaite the 29er was first produced in 1998.

Two sailors sail the 29er, one on trapeze.

The class is targeted at youth sailors aiming at sailing the larger 49er which is an Olympic class.


The 6.25-metre high rig features a fractional asymmetrical spinnaker; a self-tacking jib decreases the workload of the crew, making manoeuvres more efficient and freeing the crew to take the mainsheet upwind and on two-sail reaches.

The 15.00 m2 spinnaker rigging set-up challenges crews to be fit and coordinated, and manoeuvres in the boat require athleticism due to its lack of inherent stability and the high speed with which the fully battened mainsail and jib power up.

The 74kg weight hull is constructed of fibreglass-reinforced polyester in a foam sandwich layout.

The fully battened mainsail and jib are made from a transparent Mylar laminate with orange or red Dacron trimming, while the spinnaker is manufactured from ripstop Nylon.

The mast is in three parts - an aluminium bottom and middle section, with a polyester-fibreglass composite tip to increase mast bend and decrease both overall weights, and the capsizing moment a heavy mast tip can generate. Foils are aluminium or fibreglass.

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29er skiff technical specs

  • Hull weight 74kg (163lb)
  • LOA 4.45m (14.4ft)
  • Beam 1.77m (5ft 7in)
  • Crew 2 (single trapeze) 
  • Spinnaker area 15.00 m2 (181.2sq.ft)
  • Upwind sail area 12.5 m2 (142.0 sq.ft)
  • Mast length 6.25m (20.5ft)

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