#modelyacht – Once again there is a model yacht skipper representing Ireland at the up-coming 2014 IOM European Championships held in Lake Garda in September writes Gilbert Louis.
Jeff Kay from Howth Yacht Club will be flying the Irish flag once again. Jeff is not new to this level of competition as he represented Ireland at a number of European and World Championships over the past few years.
Probably the most experienced skipper in our fleet, Jeff has a wealth of experience in sailing (laser, squib, cruiser/racers, etc...) as well as in model boats too. He brings a great technical knowledge to the fleet because of his experience over the years of racing often in the top 20 at international events.
One important element to understand! The IOM fleet at international level is the most competitive fleet there is in model boats. It includes a number of World class sailors from national, international, World, European champions and Olympic sailors too. The fleet also includes professionals in the sailing world: be TP52 campaigns, VOR, skiffs, even from the America's cup teams, like Ian Vickers (OT USA). That is not counting on the countless top model boat skippers. The top 20 includes over 50% of former EU or World champions. So it is no break in the top 20.
Jeff will be racing a Britpop, a boat designed by Brad Gibson (AUS) which has taken the IOM world by storm. A still relatively new boat design with chines. It has already won numerous podiums around the world as well as Gold medals a the last EU and World champs. So it is already proven design – so proven in fact that a lot of other skippers will race one too.
In June Jeff travelled to the UK for one of their event and he managed 4th behind 2 former World champions and ahead of a 3rd. Not a bad performance considering we don't get as much on-the-water time as our friends across the Irish sea do. We are wishing Jeff the very best for the Europeans.
But that's not all Ireland will also be represented in the umpires as our national rules guru Gordon will be part of the teams of umpires and jury there to make sure everyone stick to the ISAF RRS rules. Gordon is also experienced as he has already been called upon for his services at previous international model boat events in France and the UK. Gordon is our most experienced model boat official in Ireland and we are lucky to have someone like him in the fleet. So on behalf of the Irish IOM fleet, Thank you Gordon and wish you the best in Italy in September.
Athough we may be small in number and not as known as other fleets, we do have quality and passionate skippers in the fleet. Jeff, Gilbert, Brian and Neill have been racing across the pond to the UK numbers of times, even winning some of the events. Team Ireland finished 2nd behind Scotland at the recently launched Celtic Trophy, and the Irish flag has been flying at a number of past European and World championships.
For the past 2 years we enjoyed a slow but progressive growth in the fleet with the addition of our Northern Ireland fleet to which Brian O'Neil has been instrumental in setting up and growing. As a result model boats are now sailing again on the Belfast Waterworks, thanks to the support of the county council who welcomed the activity and helped the club to setup. Sure we even had for the first time ever an Irish sailor a the UK A class National Championships with Brian entering the event despite being completely new to this class and with very little experience with his newly acquired A class. And it is not all about racing we have Gilbert who loves multis: he has a replica of Jet Service II of the 80's and a Mini40 trimaran which was based on the 60 Orma trimaran of the 90's. In Cork we even have a 1/10 sailing replica of Illbruck a VOR60 (have you done the math yet? Yes that's a 2.4m long boat, controlled by radio control). We also welcomed the return of Stephen Kay to the class who took a break for a few years – Like his brother Stephen is an experienced sailor and will be pushing top Irish skippers too.
For now on behalf of the Irish IOM National Class Association we thank you Jeff and Gordon and we wish you the best.