Lough Ree Yacht Commodore John McGonigle on his plans for this month's 'Double Ree' youth sailing regatta at the end of August to showcase double-handed dinghy racing
The first edition of Double Ree was held in Lough Ree Yacht Club in 2018. The concept was to bring the main double-handed youth classes together in order that they could run one of their respective regional championships at the same venue. It was intended to highlight the benefits and fun of double-handed sailing and to showcase an alternative to the usual route of single-handed sailing.
This year, Double Ree was intended to form part of Lough Ree Yacht Club's 250th-anniversary celebrations. It had originally been scheduled for the weekend of the 18th– 19th of July. Then COVID 19 came along and the event was postponed.
It has now been rescheduled for the weekend of the 29th and 30th of this month.
The Mirror Northern Championship, 420 Connacht Championship and 29er Western Championship will all be decided on Lough Ree. While it's fantastic to be able to restore the event, we had to limit numbers in order to comply with the 200 person limit as dictated by the HSE and Irish Sailing. A host of measures have been put in place to ensure social distancing, sanitizing and contact tracing in order to keep everyone as safe as possible.
These measures have been well tried and tested at our annual regatta last week.
Lough Ree Yacht Club has invested a lot of effort into double-handed sailing. As in most clubs, our sailors generally start in Optimists. We quickly encourage them to try crewing in Mirrors while still developing their skills in the Optimist. Mirrors are particularly suited to very young crew as they do not have to manage the hoists and drops of the spinnaker. The helm does that. They absorb experience from the older more experienced helms and get to experience conditions that might be a bit too much for them were they in a single-handed boat.
As they grow older and develop their skills they moved to the back of the boat as a helm.
It's not unusual for a sailor to sail in a Mirror from age 9 to 15.
The 420 is the Lough Ree YC's choice of boat for the next step. It's a natural progression from a Mirror, where our sailors get to expand their skills with the addition of a trapeze and a highly tuneable rig.
Once the challenge of pairing crew and helm is overcome, it's a lot more friendly than single-handed sailing. This is very appealing for many.
Our main focus with youth sailors is to develop skills and to keep them in sailing for as long as we can.
We have found that if we can attract sailors into competitive double-handed sailing, they will generally keep sailing until their college years.
Double Ree is a fantastic opportunity to showcase double-handed sailing and for sailors to see other classes in action, as all the classes will be raced in the same location.
We hope that that the various fleets will come to appreciate the merits of each other's fleets.
Camping and mooring facilities are available at the club. There will be food available on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Registration will be open on Monday here