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Irish 29er's Exciting End to a Fantastic First Season

5th October 2018
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Henry Start and Elysia O'Leary in the 29er on Belfast Lough Henry Start and Elysia O'Leary in the 29er on Belfast Lough

Last weekend saw the final event in the Irish 29er class calendar with the fleet competing at the RYANI Youth Championships at Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club.

The event also drew on a number of classes including Lasers, 420’s, Toppers and RS Fevas, whilst doubling up as the final event in the Irish 29er Triple Crown series. With the winds set to build over the weekend, everyone was looking forward to an exciting competition and although numbers were down slightly due to a conflict of events, the weekend still saw 7 of the newly established 29er fleet taking to the water, some for their first competition. On the water, the fleet shared the same windward mark as the Lasers and 420’s with the latter continuing on a trapezoidal course, whilst the 29ers performed multiple windward/leeward loops with a separate finish.

This proved to be a very successful topology and saw 3 very close races being run with no dominant boat, although the ‘mistimed capsizes’ by the two leading boats just before the finishing line did contribute significantly to the overall excitement! By the end of racing on the first day, Erin and Luke McIlwaine from Newcastle Yacht Club were in pole position but with only 2 points separating the top three places and discards to kick in after the first race on Sunday, everything was still up for grabs Sunday morning greeted the sailors with a somewhat lighter breeze than was forecast but with strong winds coming in by lunchtime, and with wind against tide, everyone was keen to get onto the water. After a temporary wind shift following race one caused an unwelcome delay, the wind and swell started to increase significantly during the second race. The Whiskey flag was subsequently administered and followed quickly by Abandonment with everyone heading to shore.

As Afloat.ie reported earlier, with two bullets for ‘Team Rickard’, there was an overall shift in the leaderboard with Leah and Luke Rickard (National YC) grabbing a well-deserved overall first place, Erin and Luke McIlwaine (Newcastle YC) in second and Dawson Kohl (Royal Cork YC) and Jeff McGovern (Royal St George YC) in third. Well done to all the sailors who competed in very testing conditions, a big thank you to the club for hosting the competition, and to the RYANI for including the newly formed Irish 29er class in their Championship and development programme. Jarlath O’Leary, the class chairperson, had nothing but praise for the sailors –“This has been an outstanding year for the first year of the Association and is more than we could have hoped for with the fleet taking part in five events over the season. We now have around 15 boats in the class and hopefully, this will reach 20 by Christmas.

We have a great bunch of really enthusiastic kids who are willing to swap around whenever needed and support each other both on and off the water. As we complete the last event in our racing calendar, we now look forward to our training programme over the winter, bringing new members on board, and putting together our plans for the 2019 series.”

Published in Youth Sailing
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