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Displaying items by tag: Optimist

A lifetime of enthusiastic and effective dedication to voluntary work in international sailing administration has very deservedly resulted in the award of World Sailing’s Gold Medal to Ireland’s Helen Mary Wilkes writes W M Nixon.

She is originally from Scotland while her husband Robert is from England. But when they settled in Ireland in 1969, Howth became their home, sailing became their family sport, and both their sons Tom and Rupert sailed – and still sail - for Ireland.

However, the fact that Helen Mary and Robert together provided a brilliant administrative and creative team was quickly recognized locally and nationally, and it was recognition which became international when Howth Yacht Club took on the staging of the Optimist Worlds in 1981.

helen mary wilkes5 1Wall-to-wall Optimist dinghies from dozens of countries at the Worlds in Howth in 1981 – this is how it looks in a double-page spread in the HYC Centenary History, published 1995

That would be a relatively straightforward business with today’s modernized facilities. But Howth in 1981 was in the throes of harbour re-development, yet bits of it still functioned as both a sailing and fishing port.

Thus the staging of the worlds was based on the beachside Claremont Hotel immediately west of the Harbour (it has long since disappeared into a large complex of up-market apartments), and much of the running of this huge event had to be developed from scratch.

But with Helen Mary Wilkes in the key position as Secretary to the Organising Committee and Robert in several other roles, the racing for hundreds of Optimists - in what was then the most international sailing event ever seen in Ireland - was successfully completed. The overall winner was Guido Tavelli of Argentina, while the top girl (and best Irish at 17th overall) was 13-year-old Denise Lyttle of the National YC.

helen mary wilkes5 1Helen Mary Wilkes (centre) with Viggo and Edith Jacobsen, the founders in 1962 of the International Optimist Dinghy Association, at a major regatta in 1990

For most folk in Howth, that was enough involvement in international sailing administration until the new HYC marina and clubhouse were fully functional by 1987. But Helen Mary and Robert Wilkes had been spotted by the powers-that-be as talents that could usefully be deployed on the world stage, and Helen Mary’s subsequent rise through the global and national ranks of sailing administration has been so all-encompassing that it’s best summarized in a basic list:

International Sailing Federation (now World Sailing)

1982 - 1998 International Classes Committee
1990 - 1994 CPOC
1994 - 1998 Events Committee
1994 - 1998 Vice-chair, International Classes Committee (elected)
1998 - 2000 Match Racing Committee
2006 & 2008 Nominated for IOC Women & Sport Award
2008 ISAF President’s Development Award (jointly)
2008-2016 Vice-chair, ISAF Classes Committee

International Optimist Class
1978 - 1982 Secretary, IODA of Ireland
1982 - 1987 President, IODA of Ireland
1982 - 1985 Regatta Committee, IODA
1985- 1989 Vice-President
1989 - 1998 President
During that presidency the Class became the largest in the world:
- national membership rose by 78% to 87 countries
- participation at international events rose by 50% to 57 countries
1998 - 2005 Member of Honour
2005 - President of Honour

Match Racing
In 1996 Helen Mary was asked by Paul Henderson (ISAF President) to promote women’s match-racing towards Olympic status and became the first president of the Women’s International Match-Racing Association. The number of active teams and countries increased by nearly 50%.

Irish Sailing Association
1990 - 1998 Council
1992 - 2000 Olympic Committee/Group

World Sailing
March 2017 Gold Medal awarded to Helen Mary Wilkes by newly-elected World Sailing President Kim Andersen

While Helen Mary Wilkes’ many significant roles have made her the more prominent of this remarkable couple, Robert has been busy behind the scenes, and among other things - in addition to being Secretary for 35 years to the International Optimist Class Association - in 2007 he produced a profusely-illustrated history of the first sixty years of this incredibly successful little boat, with additional input from Clifford McKay Jr, who was the first Opty sailor in Florida way back in 1947.

helen mary wilkes5 1Helen Mary and Robert Wilkes on being inducted into the Irish Sailing Association’s Hall of fame in 2009

Being the sons of such busy and interesting parents made for a special up-bringing for Tom and Rupert. It’s all of a piece that Tom should be involved on the technical side of sailing – he runs a carbon spar-making business in the Netherlands which, in honour of home, he calls Ceilidh Composites. As a result he is a veteran of several Fastnets and Sydney-Hobarts. Rupert has elected to work ashore, but it’s something equally interesting – he restores classic and antique buildings.

However, this week it’s their parents and their enormous contribution to national and international sailing which is deservedly top of the agenda. Our heartiest congratulations to Helen Mary Wilkes on her newly-awarded World Sailing Gold Medal.

helen mary wilkes5 1Gold Medallist. Helen Mary Wilkes today

Published in News Update

IOCA UK announces it will host a Champion of Champions Race at its 2017 British Nationals in celebration of 70 years of the Optimist Dinghy.

To be held at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, this invitation only event will celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Optimist, first designed in 1947. Those battling it out for the ultimate glory in an optimist dinghy will be past National Optimist Champions, Olympic sailors, Optimist coaches and the top current sailors.

Race organiser Chris Evans explained: "The Optimist boat and Optimist events are the starting point for many sailing stars and 85% of Olympic sailing champions worldwide. In celebration of this special anniversary, we want to capture the spirit of fun, friendship and fierce competition within the Optimist class. Anyone could win the race, whatever their size or age!"

The Champion of Champions race is scheduled to take place on Tuesday 1st August, following racing that day.

The 2017 Volvo Gill Optimist British National and Open Championships take place from 29 July - 4 August 2017 and will welcome over 400 sailors and their families from across the UK and rest of the world.

Published in Optimist
Tagged under

The traditional Optimist Baltimore Spring Training Week event, one of the top International sailing clinics in Europe, takes place next week. 

Baltimore Week is Ireland’s largest sailing camp and this year has seen over 140 Optimist sailors from 8 – 15 yrs old sign up for the event.

It is an action packed week of fun for all the family. This event is about making friends and having fun on and off the water in a safe environment.

A team of International coaches from Greece, & Poland are joined by top Irish coaches to provide training for sailors of all competencies, from those who have only recently started to sail to those who are competing internationally.

The week is very much a family-oriented event, with a programme of activities for children too young to sail, and events also organised for adults, such as the ‘How to Rig an Oppi’ class for novice parents! Schull & Fitbones provides activities for those 5 years and upwards who are not yet sailing. They do Baltimore Treasure Hunt and Playground games, Sherkin Island trip and an Adventure Challenge in Lough Hyne Woods.

Evening activities are also on offer, including the ever-popular cinema night and also a disco night. In addition the week finishes off with a one day regatta which helps sailors consolidate all they have learnt during the week & to put it into practice.

The annual event is hosted by Baltimore Sailing Club, which is set in the beautiful harbour of Baltimore, West Cork.

IODAI Forum 2017
An IODAI forum takes place during the Baltimore week where all parents are invited to express their views or seek information on the running of the Optimist class.

Published in Optimist

Tralee Bay Maritime Centre have over 50 boats on the water this week at Fenit in County Kerry. Brian O'Sullivan, Centre Principal, told Afloat.ie he is delighted with the response to the performance coaching clinic, led by Thomas Chaix, with some of the best junior sailors in the country coming together in three different dinghy sailing classes - Lasers, Toppers and Optimists

Coaches from Greece, Portugal, France, Poland and Ireland have their hands full with a massive turnout for the inaugural clinic at Europe's most westerly port.

Published in Youth Sailing

The Irish Optimist class has published its 2017 calendar highlighting the youth boat's national championships at the Royal Irish Yacht Club as the season's penultimate fixture from August 17 to 20. 

February kicks off the season with the Baltimore Sailing Club Spring Training Week from February 19 to 24 before April IODAI trials commence at Ballyholme Yacht Club on April 20-23.

Download the full calendar below.

Published in Optimist
Tagged under

Nearly 200 Optimist sailors took to Rutland Water last weekend for the final IOCA UK ranking event of 2016, the Volvo Gill Optimist End of Season Championship at Rutland Sailing Club.

Members of the British Sailing Team, having just returned from Rio, were on hand to inspire the youth sailors. Team Volvo's Alain Sign and Alexandra Rickham shared their grassroots to glory journeys in a bid to inspire the next generation of sailors.

For many of the young competitors, this event signified an important moment in their sailing careers with the results forming part of the selection process for the IOCA UK Squads. Training in the squads develops their skills and knowledge to enable them to excel in Optimist sailing and progress successfully towards youth and Olympic class sailing.

49er sailor Alain Sign joined the sailors on the water on Saturday to offer some hints and tips. After racing, the Optimist sailors had the opportunity to hear about Alain's sailing journey from youth to Olympic class sailing. Speaking after the event Alain said: "For many here, the dream became a possible reality when they heard how sailing greats such as Team Volvo's Hannah Mills, double Olympic medallist, had once sat exactly where they were. In total, 10 of the 15 sailors who represented Great Britain at this year's Olympics, started out their sailing careers in the Optimist Class."

After a wet start on day one, the sun shone down on the regatta and transition fleets as they hit the water for day two of racing on Sunday. With a steady northeasterly breeze blowing across the Rutland reservoir, the sailors completed three closely fought races. Double Paralympic medallist, Alexandra Rickham, attended the prize giving ceremony and said: "It has been a fantastic weekend of sailing and I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting with the next generation of sailors. I hope Alain and I have inspired them and helped to realise that with hard-work and support you can achieve anything."

Published in Optimist
Tagged under

Last weekend Sutton Dinghy Club ran their Inter-Schools Sailing event. The event in its 41st year attracted 32 schools with 107 boats and 144 youth sailors making the start line last Saturday morning. Well 2 start lines actually with 38 boats in the Optimist Fleet and 69 boats in the Mixed Fleet racing under PY. For each Fleet there is an Individual and Team prize sailed for. The event has been graced by many of Irelands rising stars over the years including Dan O'Grady, Ger Owens, David Burrows, Scott Flanigan, Dougie Elmes and Robert Dickson. Indeed last year's Mixed Fleet winner was none other than Blackrock College's Ewan McMahon World Radial Silver medallist in 2016 and the Optimist winner in 2015 was Tom Higgins who went on to win both the British and Irish Optimist Nationals in 206. A unique event that enables Club sailors team up with future rising stars of Irish sailing.
Day 1 - Optimist – With poor weather forecast for Sunday, PRO Paul ‘PK’ Kavanagh was considering 3 races for the day. Was there even enough wind to get 2 races in? Racing commenced on time at 12.00 in a generally southerly breeze. In the light shifty wind the left side of the beat on an ebb tide was favoured with the fleet favoring a pin-end start. The leading group of 4 or 5 boats took control of the race and put clear air between them and the chasing pack. The race was shortened to two rounds with lightening winds and increasing tides. To ensure interest in the Team event is maintained boats outside the 15 minutes time limit were given a count back based on there position on the water rather than a DNF.
Race 2 was abandoned due to a major wind shift on the first beat and a postponement flag was hoisted while the course was re-configured. Again the conditions were not ideal but the PRO managed to get the fleet away on a shorter course with lightening winds and a strong ebb tide. The race was completed only just following a major wind shift which did not effect the leaders who rounded final leeward mark in a tight bunch with a following wind.
After 2 races St Fintans NS were making the running from Belvedere College and Schoil Mhuire teams with Johnny Flynn, Hugh & Luke Turvey, Luke Groarke Donagh and Leah Rickard all well placed in the Individual event. Young Abby Kinsella was best of the Sutton Dinghy Club sailors in 14th.

Inter Schools Sailing RegattaInter Schools Sailing Regatta at Sutton – As the wind lightened there was a little concern that the fleets may struggle to get round the last lap
Mixed Fleet – PRO Jim Lambkin got Race 1 for both Flight A and Flight B away first time. Flight A included both Laser Radial & 4.7's, GP14, 420 and RS Fevas and started on the same course 5 mins in front of Flight B which included Mirrors, Topper and Topaz. The 30+ boats in either fleet made for a very busy line. However the well behaved sailors ensured a single individual recall in each fleet was as bad as it got .The event is run on Portsmouth Yardstick with each boat timed and recorded for each lap of the course completed. The PY handicap system enables the Schools have teams race each other despite the teams being made up of mixed Classes. Race 1 saw the fleets well spaced along the line. In the light shifty wind the 420's looked like the early pace setters with McDowell/Dix (Loretto College) combination along with a with a few Radials including Olympic Laser aspirant Aoife Hopkins (Santa Sabina). The GP14 of Boyle/Coyne (Belvedere) after a slow start began to make an impression. A number of boats infringed by not coming through their start-finish time for time recording and paid the penalty. Meanwhile a number of the top Mirrors were travelling well and had opened considerable gap on the Topper and other Mirrors. As the wind lightened there was a little concern that the fleets may struggle to get round the last lap. But just when it was needed a short puff of breeze helped many home with some unfortunately time-out.
Race 2 saw a general recall for Flight A while Flight B showed them the way by getting away first time. Under Black flag Flight A got underway with pin end favored this time and an ebb tide adding its own challenge. For most of the first lap the wind was steady with the GP14 well up with the Radials and 420 from the start. As the race progressed the GP14 eked out an on the water lead but the Radials, 4.7 including Rickard (Gonzaga), Hopkins (Santa Sabina), Higgins (Gonzaga) and Hopkins (Mount Temple) and the Mirrors of Croasdel/Harrington (St Alyosius, Athlone) & Graf/Croasdel (Athlone Community College) in Flight B were also going well. However on the start of the second lap the wind became decidedly light. The PRO made a call to shorten the course for the Radials, 420’s and GP14 which meant everybody was finishing on end of lap 2. It was a good job the Committee boat was well stocked with sail number callers and recorders as Flight A and Flight B converged on the finish together. Race 2 was concluded again with a few boats timed out. The PRO went into sequence for a 3rd race, but quickly went to AP as the wind lightened. However with tide now an issue for getting ribs, committee boat and indeed some of the fleet back the PRO abandoned racing for the day to the delighted cheers of the by now tired crews. The fleet of 69 boats sailing back to the Club made for a spectacular sight.
After 2 races, Gonzaga hold a short lead over Belvedere College and Sligo Grammar with the furthest travelers the McCallister brothers from Bandon Grammar holding a small lead over the Athlone boats of Ben Graf and Caolann Croasdel with 4.7 of Tom Higgins and Dan Hopkins next followed by Aoife Hopkins and then Sutton Dinghy Club sailors Peter Boyle & Tim Coyne in the GP14.

Day 2 - Optimist Fleet – Day 2 arrived with great expectations of a little more breeze for the fleet than Saturday. The Fleets took to the water about 10:30 in 10-12 knots but that was really as good as it got. The clouds arrived with persistent mist rain and with it the wind dropped also.
PRO Paul ‘PK’ Kavanagh’s first start was abandoned due to a wind shift and then rain and then no wind. An AP was hoisted and after a lengthy delay the PRO and his team managed to get the Race underway in a light wind. 2 boats were over at the start with both boats returning to start line following individual recall. However in a dying wind PRO made the decision to shorten the race at the leeward mark following round 2. A number of boats did not make the finish due to the time limit, however they were all placed following a count-back to end of Lap 1.
The Opi sailors showed great patience having been on the water a long time with the light wind resulting in a single race for the day. The results were delayed as a Protest was heard that could have had a profound impact on the overall results. In the end the overnight leader Johnny Flynn retained his top position following consistent sailing with the Turvey brothers left to share the 2nd and 3rd spot. With 2 sailors in the top 3 the Team event was retained by St Fintan NS from Belvedere College A with Schoil Mhuire A taking 3rd.
Mixed Fleet – The PRO on the outer fleet, our Commodore Jim Lambkin struggled to get a steady breeze for race 1. Eventually after about 40 minutes both Flights were away but very quickly it became obvious that lightening breeze allied to a flood tide meant half the fleet had difficulties making the weather mark. Race abandoned and the Fleet waited patiently. Eventually around 1:45pm breeze picked having swung to the west and now from the Pigeon House direction. With marks relaid both flights were underway and with a Black Flag in operation 2 boats fell foul. The Radial of Aoife Hopkins and GP14 of local sailors Boyle/Coyne and 420 of McDowell/Dix lead from the front but again with a lightening breeze the PRO had no options but to utilize the times at end of the first lap to ensure a race results for as many of the fleet.
While many had hoped for a bit more breeze, the event had 3 races which of course meant there could be no discards in the Individual event meaning consistency was going to be the key to making the podium. The Individual event saw overnight leaders McAllisters (Rory & Oisin) slip to second place with Ben Graf & Lugaidh Croasdel take 1st. Caolann Croasdell and Dermot Harrington took 3rd a clean sweep for the Mirror. Well handicapped on PY they still need to be sailed well in these difficult conditions to stay ahead of some well sailed Lasers, GP14 and 420. In the Team event the Gonzaga team of Loghlen Rickard and Tom Higgins, both incidentally former winners of the Optimist event here, took 1st place ahead of Sligo Grammar's Mirror team (White/Wray, Wray/VanderGrijn, White/Bamber) with in 3rd Belvedere A (Peter Boyle/Tim Coyne, S Crawford, D O’Grady).

Sutton inter schoolsBen Graf & Luagaidh Croasdel the Individual Mixed Fleet winners with Jim Lambkin Club Commodore and event PRO.With sailors and parents well fed and watered, the packed Clubhouse watched the Croke Park Football final as they waited for the Prize-giving. Club Commodore and main-fleet PRO Jim Lambkin thanked the sailors, their parents and all the volunteers and Club members for making it another superb event. With 107 boats and over 140 sailors from 32 schools it was a tremendous effort. He particularly thanked the help from local Clubs around the bay for providing Ribs and crews to facilitate rescue and mark laying. Here is to next year!

Published in Youth Sailing

Tomorrow's All Ireland Junior sailing championships looks like it will get off to a wet and windy start for the 16–nominated junior sailing stars drawn from seven yacht clubs from around the country.

The Under–18 championships is scheduled to race over two days in West Cork's own TR3.6 two handed dinghies but the weather forecast for the Schull venue shows winds topping 40–knots for Saturday and the same again on Sunday.  

xc weatherXC weather forecaster shows big winds in Schull, West Cork tomorrow

In a show of strength for Dublin's Royal St. George Yacht Club more than a third of the participants are drawn from the Dun Laoghaire club. RStGYC juniors are representing the RS200 (Toby Hudson Fowler), the RS Feva (Henry Start), Laser 4.7 (Peter Fagan), Optimist (Tom Higgins), Topper (Jack Fahy) and Kate Lyttle from the 420 class.

Tom HigginsMulti–champion in the Optimist class, Tom Higgins from the Royal St. George, is nominated for this weekend's All Ireland Juniors  in Schull

Royal Cork Yacht Club is the next biggest club on the water in Schull with four sailors involved. 29er skipper Harry Durcan and twin Johnny representing 29er and Laser Radials respectively. Harry Twomey represents the Optimist class and Sophie Crosby sails for the Toppers. 

The National Yacht Club's Clare Gorman represents the Laser 4.7 and will defend the girls title and the NYC's Leah Rickard sails for the Optimists.

TR3.6 dinghiesSchull's own TR3.6 dinghies ready for the junior all Ireland sailors. Photo: Fastnet Marine

The West coast is represented by three clubs.Topaz sailors Adam Byrne and Dylan Reidy representing Dingle SC and Foynes YC respectively and Sligo Yacht Club sends Mirror ace Sarah White.

The 420 class is represented by Geoff Power of Waterford Harbour Sailing Club

Full nominee list below

ClassNameSurnameClub
RS200 Junior Toby Hudson Fowler Royal StGeorge YC
RS Feva Henry Start Royal St George YC
Mirror Sarah White Sligo YC
Laser 4.7 Clare Gorman NYC
Laser 4.7 Peter Fagan Royal St George YC
Laser Radial Johnny Durcan RCYC/NYC
Topaz Adam Byrne Dingle SC
Topaz Dylan Reidy Foynes YC
Topper Jack Fahy RSTGYC
Topper Sophie Crosby RCYC
420 Geoff Power WHSC
420 Kate Lyttle RStGYC
OPTIMIST Tom Higgins RSGYC
OPTIMIST Harry Twomey RCYC&CHSC
OPTIMIST Leah Rickard NYC
29er Harry Durcan RCYC
Published in Youth Sailing

In an exciting new initiative for youth sailors, the Irish Sailing Association has announced provisional details on a series of Performance Pathway Seminars.

The seminars are replacing the ISA Optimist Squads and ISA Topper Squad which have traditionally run from October to March. The change of tack does not affect summer activities which start after the ISA Pathway Nationals.

The seminars are primarily targeted at junior sailors from the Topper and Optimist classes and their coaches. There will also be sessions available to parents of sailors. Other applications may be considered.

There will be a minimum of three seminars over the winter and the topics will include but not be limited to Fitness, Psychology, Programme Design, Nutrition, Boat Transition, Olympic pathways.

The very clear switch to focussing on the education of young athletes means ISA Performance can widen the scope of how many athletes and coaches it can engage with over the course of the year. The ISA says 'the Pathway has often been criticised for not being inclusive enough so this initiative will tackle that concern head on'.

The ISA say 'Given our limited resources we feel this approach will give a better return on investment while at the same time giving the pathway much more visibility across a wider base. ISA Performance will NOT be running the ISA Optimist Squad or the ISA Topper squad this winter'.

There is additional investment going into the ISA coaching programme and it is hoped this programme will help facilitate the clubs and classes take on the role of training over the winter period.

As always the ISA Pathway Nationals will be the key event in the domestic programme. The ISA plan to invest more into the event and ISA Performance will continue to use this event to determine squads for the summer events.

Provisional Dates

OCT 29th & 30th

DEC TBC

JAN TBC

More Details and Application Process will be posted October 7th. In the meantime save the dates. It is envisaged we would have between 20 and 30 places per class association

Published in Youth Sailing

Royal St. George Yacht Club Optimist sailor Tom Higgins continued his successful season at last weekend's Munster Championships at Royal Cork Yacht Club. The Dublin Bay youth sailor finished the six race series on 14 points, three–points clear of the National Yacht Club's Charlie Cullen.Third in the 35-boat senior fleet was Royal Cork's Rory O'Sullivan. In the junior fleet, Higgins's clubmate Moss Simmington was the overall winner. IODAI Results below.

Published in Optimist
Page 8 of 25

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.

Competitions

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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