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The sunny south-east delivered a fabulous weekend of racing for the 2019 420 Leinster Championships held at Wexford Harbour Boat and Tennis Club. Whilst the forecast for Saturday was pessimistic with regards to the likely wind strength the race management team managed to deliver two quality races in a breeze of up to 7 knots before wrapping it up for the day as the wind died in the early afternoon. Graf and Farrell proved to be the masters of the lighter winds and they led the fleet at the end of day 1.

The change in the hour on Sunday morning combined with an early first gun at 09:25 meant that sailors hit the race course in a building breeze that provided excellent racing with gusts up to 20 knots. Four races were scheduled for the day and the race management team were able to set big courses that allowed for extremely competitive racing with the top positions in the fleet changing throughout the races. Several races were tight with opportunities for a number of boats to take victory in individual races. In the end, the winning crew should a strong determination to win, to battle it out in every single race, to move on from the lows and take opportunities when they arose so that no matter what position they were in during the race they were in the one that counted at the finish line. Lucy Kane and Emma Gallagher took the title with four race wins on the second day of the event ahead of Morgan Lyttle and Patrick Whyte in second and Ben Graf with Alexander Farrell in third.

420 Gold fleet Leinster Champs

2019 Leinsters 1st Gold fleet1st Gold fleet2019 Leinsters 2nd Gold fleet2nd Gold fleet

2019 Leinsters 3rd Gold fleet3rd Gold fleet

1st Gold Fleet – Lucy Kane (East Antrim Boat Club) & Emma Gallagher (Malahide Yacht Club)

2nd Gold Fleet – Morgan Lyttle (Royal St. George Yacht Club) & Patrick Whyte (Lough Ree Yacht Club)

3rd Gold Fleet – Ben Graf (Lough Ree Yacht Club) & Alexander Farrell (Lough Ree Yacht Club)

Silver fleet

2019 Leinsters 1st Silver fleet1st Silver fleet

2019 Leinsters 2nd Silver fleet2nd Silver fleet

2019 Leinsters 3rd Silver fleet3rd Silver fleet

1st Silver Fleet – Siofra Collins (Galway Bay Sailing Club) & Rory Collins (Galway Bay Sailing Club)

2nd Silver Fleet – Alex Leech (Lough Ree Yacht Club) & Lughaidh Croasdell (Lough Ree Yacht Club)

3rd Silver Fleet – Lauren McDowell (Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club) & Robert O’Brien (Clontarf Yacht Club)

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The Schull half term 420 sailing week is the longest of the Irish 420 open training events and the training days are often followed by the Munster Regional Championships as was the case this year.

The four days of training at Schull provided a mixture of on the water and land-based sessions in the purpose-built Fastnet Marine and Outdoor Education Centre. The intensive week is planned out and delivered by experienced coaches with extensive sailing knowledge as well as the skills required to deliver classroom-based sessions to the sailors.

420 sailing at Schull week 2019420 sailing at Schull Week 2019

The International 420 has provided the natural pathway for many sailors and choosing the 420 pathway provides sailors with the essential skills they will need whatever their next step in sailing. It is the perfect boat to develop skill in strategy, tactics, boat handling, tuning and technique. Whilst the 420 is accessible and easy to start to sail – it is also a high-performance boat which demands excellent skills to compete at the top level.

2019 420 Munster Championships Silver Fleet prize winners420 Munster Championships Silver Fleet prize winners

The week delivered a range of weather with sublime sailing days bookending the week and providing a variety of conditions for sailors to test their skills in between. For some of the more experienced sailors came the opportunity to test their skills in wind speeds up to 25knots and above, which provided scintillating conditions for 420 sailing, especially upwind. The boats are designed to plane easily, yet the hull shape gives a measure of stability. Should a capsize occur, the 420 is safe and easy to right and comes up with little water in it due to its buoyancy lifting the hull out of the water. The controls allowed a variety of crew weights to get maximum speed on the water, as well as enabling sailing in higher wind strengths and in choppy sea states that other dinghies struggle to sail in.

The training days set the sailors up nicely for the 2019 Munster Regional Championships held on the Friday and Saturday. Day 1 of racing on Friday brought very strong winds ranging from 25 to 35 knots so racing was cancelled for the day allowing the sailors time to enjoy some of the sights and scenes of south-west Cork. The winds moderated for Saturday and with all the sailors primed the weather duly delivered an exceptional days racing. With racing held within the bay to avoid the large Atlantic swell, still running after the previous days strong winds, a series of six races were completed. The first three races produced three different winners but as the series progressed the Kane/Gallagher combination showed excellent boat speed and consistency to finish with four race wins. However the eagerness to get out of the traps early in the first race series of the year led to a number of OCS results being carded across the fleet and with Kane/Gallagher picking up two of them, this opened the door for Lyttle/Whyte to take the Championships ahead of Graff and Farrell.

Gold Fleet results
1st Morgan Lyttle (Royal St George Yacht Club) and Patrick Whyte (Lough Ree Yacht Club)
2nd Ben Graff and Alexander Farrell (Lough Ree Yacht Club)
3rd Lucy Kane (East Antrim Boating Club) and Emma Gallagher (Malahide Yacht Club)

Silver Fleet results
1st Harry Shackelton and Christopher Evans Garrett (Howth Yacht Club)
2nd Olivia Cure and Isabella Irwin (Galway Bay Sailing Club)
3rd Andrew Boyle and Ben Patterson (Malahide Yacht Club)

As important as the sailing during Schull week are the opportunities to meet other sailors and parents from a variety of clubs around the country with the sailors holding a dinner at the Schull Harbour Hotel after the first days racing.

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Irish 420 sailors have been out testing their skills in the strong breeze on Lough Ree this winter in anticipation of a full calendar of events starting with the first 420 regional championships of 2019 at the Fastnet Marine and Outdoor Training Centre in Schull County Cork in a month's time from February 22nd to 23rd.

420 Sailing on Lough Ree

Last Sunday was a perfect day for a midwinter's morning blast. The Lough Ree 420 sailors took full advantage of the conditions.

Building on the success of its Mirror fleet, Lough Ree Yacht Club are building an active 420 fleet.

With the addition of a trapeze and a good deal more speed, it’s the natural progression for sailors who have already developed double-handed sailing skills.

Former 420 sailor Robert Dickson, who recently won the U23 49er World Championship with Seán Waddilove, has been running coaching weekends to help to develop the class.

In response to parents who have sought guidance on what boat to advance to once their sailors have left Optimists, Lough Ree Yacht Club has mapped out it’s own ‘youth pathway programme’.

Single-handed sailors move from Optimists to Lasers. Mirror sailors progress into the 420. Sailors are encouraged to try both double-handed and single-handed to develop a complete set of sailing skills.

2019 Calendar

As previously reported by, the fleet then returns to Wexford Harbour Boat and Tennis Club for the 2019 420 Leinster Championships on March 30th.

On April 25th, the  2019 Irish Sailing Youth Pathway Championships will be the selection event for the Team travelling to the 2019 Junior European Championships.

In July, the National Championships will the year be part of the very exciting Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

The 420 Connacht Championships returns to Galway Bay Sailing Club on August 17.

The Ulster Championships will once again be part of the RYA Northern Ireland Youth Championships on September 21.

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For the first time in their domestic event season this year the 420s had some breeze to stretch their legs, it has taken until September for an event to provide moderate to strong breezes and the 2018 Ulster Championships duly delivered some great breeze as part of the RYA Northern Ireland Youth Championships hosted by the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club.

Belfast Lough can provide some challenging conditions when the wind starts to build, Saturday provided a day with some early sunshine and a breeze in the 10-15 knots range with the occasional squall, but the Lyttle/Whyte combination scored three first places to lead overnight. Sunday promised more breeze which duly arrived and favoured the slightly heavier crews. Two races were run on Sunday before the race officer called it a day. The Lyttle/Whyte combination thrived in the stronger 17-20+ knot breeze and were pushed hard by the 2nd and 3rd place boats of Thompson/Quaid and Kane/Williamson. As the breeze strengthened to 20 knots and above the crews pushed the boats hard with some exhilarating sailing as the 420s planed both on the up and downwind legs of the course.

The final positions for the 2018 Ulster Championships were as follows:

1st Morgan Lyttle/Patrick Whyte – Royal St. George Yacht Club/Lough Ree Yacht Club

2nd Daniel Thompson/Dan Quaid – Wexford Harbour Boat and Tennis Club

3rd Lucy Kane/Abby Williamson – East Antrim Boat Club

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With Autumn bringing on the start of a new academic year, the 420 Class Association traditionally takes a look ahead for the next twelve months to map out training and events through the remainder of 2018 and across 2019. 

2017/18 was a busy 12 months with over 70 open training days around the country for sailors, including the October bank holiday training weekend and Schull training week. At home, the 420s had their four regional Championships, the 420 National Championships and the Volvo Irish Sailing Youth Pathway Nationals. In 2018 the 420 Association sent a team to the Junior European Championships in Portugal during the summer and were also represented at the 420 Worlds in Newport Rhode Island. The Irish 420 class were also represented at the UK National Championships, the UK Inland Championships and the UK Spring Championships plus regattas in La Rochelle, Palamos and San Remo making it one 2018 a very busy year to date for the class and there are still four months remaining in the year!

Looking ahead to the next 12 months the 420 Class Association has already planned a number of their own domestic events and tied these in with the International 420 calendar as currently known at this point in time:


15th and 16th September - RYANI open training at Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club
29th and 30th September – 2018 420 Ulster Championships/RYANI Youth Nationals at Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club
20th and 21st October - UK Inland Championships at Rutland, a rerun of the event cancelled earlier in the year
27th to 29th October - October bank holiday weekend open training at the National Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire
17th and 18th November – UK End of Season Championships at Grafham


Monday 18th to Thursday 21st February - Schull Training week during Spring half term
22nd and 23rd February – 2019 Munster Championships, Schull
16th and 17th March – UK Inland Championships at Rutland
6th and 7th April – UK Spring Championships at Weymouth
Irish sailing Youth Pathway Nationals – Details to be confirmed
3rd to 11th July – 420 World Championships, Portugal
Junior European Championships- date and venue to be confirmed
Depending on dates for the Junior Europeans, dates for the following will be set:
2019 Irish National Championships
2019 Leinster Regional Championships
17th and 18th August – 2019 Connaught Championships at Galway Bay Sailing Club
September – 2019 Ulster Championships, date and venue TBC

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Nicola and Fiona Ferguson from the National Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire, competed in the 420 World Championships in Newport, Rhode Island, from 10th-15th August.

167 boats from 18 countries competed in this event. Sailors travelled from all parts of the USA, Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the US Virgin Islands. Nicola and Fiona were the only Irish team.

There were 3 fleets: 420 Open, Open Women’s and U17. Nicola and Fiona competed in the Open Women’s fleet. 12 races took place over the six-day event. Spanish sisters, Maria and Pilar Caba Hernandez won the Women's Open Championship, jumping from 5th place going into the final day.

The Spanish sailors dominated the podium, coming 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the Open Women's Championship. Nicola and Fiona Ferguson finished off the Championship in 31st position, which they are delighted with, being their first World’s event, which has no age limit for competing sailors.

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420 week concluded today at Howth Yacht Club with the third day of racing in the 2018 420 Open and National Championships. And what a week it was, it kicked off with a three-day training module followed by a second one-day training module prior to the start of championship racing. 

The first two days of racing were in moderate winds. Day one produced a nine-point spread covering first to fifth positions and this spread increased to eighteen points at the end of day two when a pattern emerged with the GBR team of Alex Colquitt/Rebecca Coles putting together a string of race wins to carry a score of 6 points ahead of Grace O’Beirne/Kathy Kelly of the Royal St. George on 13 points and Gemma Mc Dowell/Emma Gallagher on 17 points of Malahide Yacht Club. Tied on 24 points each, fourth overall and third Irish boat were Micheal O’Suilleabhan/Rob Keal of Kinsale Yacht Club and Morgan Lyttle/Patrick White of the Royal St. George Yacht Club and Lough Ree Yacht Club respectively. 

"It is never over until it is over and a lot can happen in the final downwind leg followed by a mark rounding to the finish"

So it was all to play for on the final day with two races held in a freshening but challenging breeze that was oscillating through 60 degrees and ranging from 6 to 14 knots. Alex Colquitt and Rebecca Coles had enough cushion to all but have wrapped up the open title so the real contest was going to be for the Irish National Champions title and the Irish Sailing medals. Race 8 allowed the leading GBR boat to nail down the Open Champions title with another win but the chase to be Irish Champion hotted up with Mc Dowell/Gallagher closing the gap on the leading Irish boat of O’Beirne/Kelly to three points. So all to play for in the last race and the title was won between the final weather mark and the finish. With Mc Dowell/Gallagher rounding the final weather mark in first place hotly pursued by Colquitt/Coles it looked as if they may have done enough to close out the 420 National Championship title with O’Beirne/Kelly rounding in fifth. But it is never over until it is over as the saying goes and a lot can happen in the final downwind leg followed by a mark rounding to the finish. The tight battle between the two leading boats in the final race ended with Colquitt/Coles claiming another win (see attached image) and the first two boats were able to then wait to see how the race was unfolding behind them. The next three boats were closely spaced and O’Beirne/Kelly were able to reel in the two boats ahead of them so that when a luffing duel started they were able to surge through to take third place in the final race and with it the title of Irish National Champions and first ladies crew.

The 420 Association congratulated Howth Yacht Club on their excellent hosting of the event, both the top quality training and the race management led by PRO Larry Power.

420 Nats 1st Gold and 2018 Open Champions Alex Colquitt and Rebecca Coles West Kirby Sailing ClubAnnadale Sailing Club420 Nats 1st Gold and 2018 Open Champions Alex Colquitt and Rebecca Coles of West Kirby Sailing Club and Annadale Sailing Club

420 Nats 2rd Gold Irish National Champions and Irish Sailing Gold medailists Grace OBeirne and Kathy Kelly Royal St George Yacht Club Yacht Club420 Nats 2nd Gold Irish National Champions and Irish Sailing Gold medalists Grace O'Beirne and Kathy Kelly Royal St George Yacht Club Yacht Club

420 Nats 3rd Gold and Irish Sailing Silver medailists Gemma Mc Dowell and Emma Gallagher Malahide Yacht Club420 Nats 3rd Gold and Irish Sailing Silver medalists Gemma Mc Dowell and Emma Gallagher Malahide Yacht Club

420 Nats 4th Gold and Irish Sailing Bronze medailists Micheal OSuilleabhain and Rob Keal Kinsale Yacht Club420 Nats 4th Gold and Irish Sailing Bronze medailists Micheal OSuilleabhain and Rob Keal Kinsale Yacht Club

Gold fleet:

1st – 2018 420 Irish Open Champion – Alex Colquitt and Rebecca Coles of West Kirby Sailing Club and Annadale Sailing Club respectively

2nd – 2018 420 Irish Champion and first ladies crew plus Irish Sailing Gold medal winners – Grace O’Beirne and Kathy Kelly of the Royal St. George Yacht Club

3rd - Irish Sailing Silver medal winners – Gemma McDowell and Emma Gallagher of Malahide Yacht Club

4th - Irish Sailing Bronze medal winners – Micheal O’Suilleabhain and Rob Keal of Kinsale Yacht Club

420 Nats 1st silver Daniel Hopkins and Robert OBrien Howth Yacht ClubClontarf Yachting and Boating Club420 Nats 1st silver Daniel Hopkins and Robert OBrien Howth Yacht Club and Clontarf Yachting and Boating Club

420 Nats 2nd silver Cian Lynch and Daniel Thompson Wexford Harbour Boat and Tennis Club420 Nats 2nd silver Cian Lynch and Daniel Thompson Wexford Harbour Boat and Tennis Club

420 Nats 3rd silver Louis Mills and Harry Ingram Holyhead Sailing Club420 Nats 3rd silver Louis Mills and Harry Ingram Holyhead Sailing Club

Silver fleet:

1st – Daniel Hopkins and Robert O’Brien of Howth Yacht Club and Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club respectively

2nd – Cian Lynch and Daniel Thompson of Wexford Harbour Boat and Tennis Club

3rd – Louis Milla and Harry Ingram of Holyhead Sailing Club

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As Day 2 of the 420 Nationals at Howth Yacht Club dawned to a dull grey sky and little wind the prospect of a first gun at 10:25 looked slim. But by 9:30 as the race committee boat headed out to the race area a gentle breeze had started to build.

By the start of racing a modest 8knt breeze had settled in and for a brief period in race 3 the wind crept above 13 knots allowing the race committee to permit pumping, rocking and ooching by flying flag “O”. At this wind speeds the 420s start to come into their element and began to plane upwind.

In total four races were sailed on Day 2, one ahead of the schedule for the event. The crews were back on land in good time despite the race officer having to reset the course between each race to account for oscillations in the wind.

The GBR combination of Colquitt/Coles had a perfect day with four bullets. With clean starts in all races the GBR team got to the windward mark first and with several Irish boats distracted by a battle for positions behind they were able to comfortably keep the pack behind them thereafter.

Bar some calamity Colquitt/Coles should be able to steer their way towards the Irish 420 Open Championship title with two races remaining and a score of 6 points. Battling it out behind them for the title of Irish Champion are Grace O’Beirne/Kathy Kelly of the Royal St. George on 13 points and Gemma Mc Dowell/Emma Gallagher Gallagher on 17 points of Malahide Yacht Club. Tied on 24 points each, fourth overall and third Irish boat, are Micheal O’Suilleabhan/Rob Keal of Kinsale Yacht Club and Morgan Lyttle/Patrick White of the Royal St. George Yacht Club and Lough Ree Yacht Club respectively.

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Today was day one of the 420 Nationals forming part of 420 week at Howth Yacht Club. With the two different training modules split over four days now behind the sailors, day one of racing was predicted to be light winds decreasing through the day. The fleet launched at eleven to head out to the race course assisted by a strong flooding tide.

Download results for the 19–boat fleet below.

Cloudy skies and a modest six-knot sea breeze greeted crews at the start of the first race but the skies soon cleared to bright sunshine and a slight increase in wind speed up to nine knots. The sometimes fickle wind and strong tide made for challenging racing but sitting on top of the leaderboard after three races are the GBR team of Colquitt/Coles who have a slender lead of one point over the Royal St. George pairing of Grace O’Beirne and Kathy Kelly.

Three more races are planned for day two of the Nationals with a modest increase in wind predicted. Day two will also see the fleet split into Gold and Silver.

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420 girl crews claimed the top three places at the Connaught Regional Championships that took place this weekend as part of the Double Ree initiative at Lough Ree Yacht Club. Race Officer David Dickson did a magnificent job in running four double-handed classes for a series of seven races, each in testing conditions across the two days.

Racing on the Saturday was in light patchy winds that also produced large shifts. Gemma Mc Dowell and Emma Gallagher produced three bullets in the first three races followed by a fourth place to hold the overnight lead over local sailors Ben Graf and Alexander Farrell. Tied overnight for third place were Grace O’Beirne/Katherine Kelly and Nicola/Fiona Ferguson. Sunday brought more stable winds and two bullets for the Grace O’Beirne/Katherine Kelly crew, enough to lift them up to second place overall and just behind the Malahide Yacht Club pairing of Gemma Mc Dowell and Emma Gallagher. Nicola/Fiona Ferguson produced a bullet in the last race to secure third place overall. Results for both the Gold and Silver fleets are listed below, prize winners came from six separate clubs in a fleet representing nine clubs.

Next up for the 420s will be the National Championships hosted by Howth Yacht Club over the bank holiday weekend of the 4th, 5th and 6th August, an event that is attracting interest from crews across the water in the UK to participate.

Lough Ree Yacht Club and Commodore Garreth Leech are to be congratulated on the excellent initiative of running a double handed regatta to promote double-handed sailing for youth sailors. The organisation on and off the water was excellent, and with many families camping on land or using floating accommodation in the harbour, it all made for a very social evening on the Saturday at the clubhouse. 

Gold Fleet:

1st Place – Gemma Mc Dowell and Emma Gallagher, Malahide Yacht Club

2nd Place – Grace O’Beirne and Katherine Kelly, Royal St. George Yacht Club

3rd Place – Nicola Ferguson and Fiona Ferguson, National Yacht Club

Silver Fleet:

1st Place – Liam Donnelly and Aidan Donnelly, Howth Yacht Club

2nd Place – Darragh Moreau and Robert O’Brien, Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club

3rd Place – Alex Leech and Lughaidh Crossdell, Lough Ree Yacht Club

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The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.


The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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