The Annual Student Yachting Worlds, sailed in performance keelboats each Autumn in France, has seen Irish overall success in times past, a noted international varsity star being Nicholas “Nin” O’Leary during his college days in Cork writes WM Nixon
But as it is raced in keelboats – in November 2016 at La Rochelle they sailed the Grand Surprise 31 – the selection trials in Ireland are staged as a separate event from the Irish Intervarsity Nationals, which are raced in dinghies (usually Fireflies), with 2017’s already staged in mid-March in Clifden in Connemara, and Trinity College Dublin, captain by Richard Roberts from Cork, winning overall.
However, with keelboat skills required for the Student Yachting Worlds, their 2017 selection will emerge from a series to be sailed this weekend in the Howth YC’s Club Flotilla of J/80s.
The format of the SYW is based on each nation being represented by its top-performing college, rather than by a national squad selected from the best-of-the-best in each crew, so the Selection Trials are one hotly contested inter-varsity event.
Last year in France at La Rochelle, there was unprecedented Trantlantic domination, with the Canadian team winning overall from the USA’s California Maritime Academy by one point. Southampton University (England) was best of the Europeans, with Ireland represented by Cork Institute of Technology taking fourth after a series in which at one stage they’d been very well in the frame.
Cork Institute of Technology take this World Series very seriously indeed, so they’ve two teams entered for this weekend’s selectors, CIT 1 captained by Jay Stacy, and CIT 2 headed by Ewan O’Keeffe. The “local varsity”, Dublin City University from just up the road, is also in the mix, skippered by Colm Roche.
The eight contenders are completed by University of Limerick (captain Chris McDaid), Queens University Belfast (Jocelyn Hill), University College Dublin 1 (William Byrne), NUI Galway (Sean Mahon) and Trinity College Dublin 1 (Rory McStay)