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O'Shaughnessy and Spain are Skiff West 2022 Champions on Tralee Bay

4th May 2022
Thomas Chaix at speed in the RS700 singlehander
Thomas Chaix at speed in the RS700 singlehander in Tralee Bay

Over the May bank holiday weekend, Tralee Bay welcomed a few speed addicts for the first Skiff West event (also incorporating the second edition of the 29er westerns).

Saturday set the scene with the TBSC opening regatta. The local dinghy sailors saw the addition of the visiting 29er youth team. Three races were completed in a brisk 14-16 knots westerly. The 29ers trusted the front positions in these planning conditions with National YC sailors Ben O'Shaughnessy and Ethan Spain taking all three races on PY. Johnny Flynn and James Dwyer were equally consistent in second. There was certainly more of a battle for the last podium position with locals making the most of the mistakes of the remaining 29ers. Ellie Cunnane (radial) eventually edged out her brother Paddy (Std rig), Riain Kelly (4.7 rigs) and father and son Mirror partnership.

On Sunday the skiffs took to the water again in a lovely 10-12 knots from the northwest. The local dolphins joined again to set the scene for great sailing.

Skiff West champions - Ben O'Shaughnessy and Ethan SpainSkiff West champions - Ben O'Shaughnessy and Ethan Spain

In the first race, the two single handers Thomas Chaix (RS700) and Chris Bateman (Musto Skiff) made the best of the 29er errors to take an early lead with a very close finish within a pole length of each other. It was however short of a few boat lengths for both of them when times were recalculated with 29er Johnny Flynn and James Dwyer squeezing the win for just a few seconds.

The breeze picked up a bit putting pressure on the single-handers boat handling allowing the 29ers to enjoy more comfortable wins with Ben O'Shaugnessy and Ethan Spain leading the pack with Johnny and James close second each time. Four well-fought races were completed to put the tally at 5 for the day.

Monday welcomed the sailors with a glass mirror in the bay... The forecast was not encouraging so the race officer called it a championship early. The 29ers elected to pack but Chris and Thomas rigged up the Musto, the RS and a 49er and the fleet was rewarded with an hour of great wind just after lunch.

Overall, NYC sailors Ben O'Shaughnessy and Ethan Spain secured the overall of "Skiff West 2022" and the 29er Westerns ahead of Johnny Flynn and James Dwyer also on a 29er and Chris Bateman (MBSC) on his Musto Skiff. Chris secured the first perpetual trophy of the open skiff fleet.

If numbers could certainly have been a bit higher, anyone who made the trip to Kerry enjoyed a fast and fun weekend and we will keep working at building a fleet mixing informal coaching skiff weekends with more serious skiff racing.

The next event is 25-26 June in Blessington.

Published in 29er
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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.

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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