It was the biggest ISA Youth Sailing Pathway Nationals yet seen, and the 2017 Championship at Ballyholme Yacht Club – 190 boats, 208 sailors – lived up to and beyond expectations in a variety of sailing conditions between 20th and 23rd April.
It was the Battle of the Titans in the Laser Radials that inevitably drew most attention. For the top sailors - with the cut-off age hovering in the background - it may be their final appearance on this hugely significant home stage. For Ewan McMahon of Howth, Silver Medallist at the Laser Radial Worlds in Dublin Bay in 2016, it was a series with challenges from every direction. The word was that serious rising stars were emerging from the hotbed of junior sailing in Rush, while Johnny Durcan of Royal Cork – All-Ireland Junior Champion 2016 – had spent part of the winter in Australia honing his Laser racing skills.
Ewan McMahon sailed a masterful series. With some flukey conditions, he wasn’t always top of the leaderboard, but he was inevitably there or thereabouts. And when the wind came in with sufficient vigour to give his tall slim frame its natural advantage, he took control to emerge as overall winner by a clear margin in a textbook exhibition of well-managed series racing.