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Lough Ree Yacht Club junior sailors were out in force this morning with gusts of up to 30-knots writes Garret Leech.

Note the fine wipeout at 40 seconds into the video below! No children were harmed during the making of this film!

Meanwhile, the adults cowered ashore whispering words of advice into their coffee! The juniors are getting in some practice ahead of the Schull Winter Training and Munster Championships which is run by the Irish International 420 Class Association, this has become an annual pilgrimage for both Parents & Children.

The Club has a vibrant junior scene and has defined an affordable pathway of their own for youth sailing which they strongly advise parents to adhere to, affordability is key to keeping the kids sailing.

Children can either start in Optimist or Mirror and as they advance their skills, they either move to 420 or Laser, sometimes both.

The club has a strong association with double-handed boats which helps keep youth sailing strong post Optimist.

2020 is Lough Ree Yacht Club’s 250th Anniversary and to celebrate junior sailing at the Club, they will again run the successful Double Ree regatta during the weekend of 18th -19th July.

This regatta will host racing for 420s, 29ers, Mirrors and RS Feva and last time run it was dubbed the Electric Picnic of sailing!

Published in Youth Sailing
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Dublin Bay produced almost perfect weather for the '420 Week' which formed part of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. Three days of training preceded the 2019 Irish 420 National Championships where the pre-event weather predictions did not make great reading with low winds predicted for the week.

However, as the week progressed the wind speed increased as did the number of hours of sunshine per day. Only the final race in the series was eventually lost to the weather. The fading breeze and the time limit for the start of the final race simply added to the tension of the final day which started with the first and second-placed boats tied on points and only separated by countback.

The title was decided in Race 7, and what turned out to be the final race of the series, on Sunday morning and won on the final beat of the race as Lucy Kane and Emma Gallagher worked their way back up the fleet to eventually catch Morgan Lyttle and Patrick Whyte and become the 420 National and Ladies Champions plus take the Irish Sailing Gold Medal. The race for third place was equally competitive with Graf/Farrell on equal points with Davidson/Thomson who took the final podium position on countback. Consolation for Graf/Farrell came in the form of an Irish Sailing Bronze.

The week of training and racing was also ideal preparation for the Irish 420 Team travelling to the Junior European Championships hosted by the Royal Galician Sailing Federation in Vilagarcia de Arousa, Spain. The next domestic event for the 420s will be the Connaught Championships at Galway Bay Sailing Club on the 17th and 18th August.

1st Gold Kane and Gallagher1st Gold Kane and Gallagher

2nd-Gold---Lyttle-and-Whyte2nd-Gold Lyttle and Whyte

3rd-Gold---Davidson-and-Thomson3rd Gold -Davidson-and-Thomson

1st-Silver---Duffy-and-Johnston1st Silver -Duffy and Johnston

Mc-Dowell-and-OBrien2nd Silver - Mc-Dowell and O'Brien

3rd-Silver---Shackelton-and-Garrett-Evans3rd-Silver - Shackelton and Evans

Gold Fleet

1st place – Kane/Gallagher – East Antrim Boat Club/Malahide Yacht Club

2nd place - Lyttle/Whyte – Royal St. George Yacht Club/Lough Ree Yacht Club

3rd place - Davidson/Thomson - Treadudur Bay Sailing Club 

Silver Fleet

1st place - Duffy/Johnston – Lough Ree Yacht Club

2nd place - McDowell/O’Brien – Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club/Clontarf Yacht Club

3rd place - Shackelton/Garrett Evans – Howth Yacht Club

Published in Volvo Regatta
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The 2019 Irish Sailing Youth National Championships hosted by Royal Cork Yacht Club provided wild oscillations in weather conditions over the four days of planned racing. Thursday was certainly the calm before the arrival of Storm Hanna and three races for the 420 class were completed in light and fickle conditions. Friday dawned with raceable conditions in the morning but the oncoming storm would have provided little opportunity to get on the water and over to the race area and back again before the onset of the strong winds around lunchtime thereby forcing the cancellation of racing. Saturday looked as if it would provide perfect 420 sailing conditions in the strong breeze at the tail end of the storm but a long postponement eventually saw racing eventually cancelled late in the afternoon.

Sunday dawned with fog and no wind, but the fleet launched at 8:30 in the morning to head out to the race course and they were eventually rewarded with a modest breeze in bright sunshine. The Ferguson sisters from the National Yacht Club provided consistency over the two days of racing with five race wins to retain the title again this year after their win in Dun Laoghaire in 2018. In second place with two race wins were another female crew of Lucy Kane and Emma Gallagher followed by Morgan Lyttle and Patrick White in third position. 

420 winning crewsThe 420 winning crews at Royal Cork Photo: courtesy Wavelength Images

The Youth Nationals has traditionally been used by the 420s for team selections to travel to the European or World Championships each year. As reported earlier here, Nicola and Fiona Ferguson will represent Ireland at the World Championships at Vilamoura in Portugal whilst the qualifiers for the 2019 Junior European Championships at Vilagarcia de Arousa on the North East coast of Spain are as follows:

  • Lucy Kane (East Antrim Boat Club) and Emma Gallagher (Malahide Yacht Club)
  • Morgan Lyttle Royal (St. George Yacht Club) and Patrick Whyte (Lough Ree Yacht Club)
  • Ben Graf and Alexander Farrell (Lough Ree Yacht Club)

Royal Cork Yacht Club and their team of volunteers and race officials are to be congratulated on running a magnificent event under testing weather conditions.

Published in 420

The sunny south-east delivered a fabulous weekend of racing for the 2019 420 Leinster Championships held at Wexford Harbour Boat and Tennis Club. Whilst the forecast for Saturday was pessimistic with regards to the likely wind strength the race management team managed to deliver two quality races in a breeze of up to 7 knots before wrapping it up for the day as the wind died in the early afternoon. Graf and Farrell proved to be the masters of the lighter winds and they led the fleet at the end of day 1.

The change in the hour on Sunday morning combined with an early first gun at 09:25 meant that sailors hit the race course in a building breeze that provided excellent racing with gusts up to 20 knots. Four races were scheduled for the day and the race management team were able to set big courses that allowed for extremely competitive racing with the top positions in the fleet changing throughout the races. Several races were tight with opportunities for a number of boats to take victory in individual races. In the end, the winning crew should a strong determination to win, to battle it out in every single race, to move on from the lows and take opportunities when they arose so that no matter what position they were in during the race they were in the one that counted at the finish line. Lucy Kane and Emma Gallagher took the title with four race wins on the second day of the event ahead of Morgan Lyttle and Patrick Whyte in second and Ben Graf with Alexander Farrell in third.

420 Gold fleet Leinster Champs

2019 Leinsters 1st Gold fleet1st Gold fleet2019 Leinsters 2nd Gold fleet2nd Gold fleet

2019 Leinsters 3rd Gold fleet3rd Gold fleet

1st Gold Fleet – Lucy Kane (East Antrim Boat Club) & Emma Gallagher (Malahide Yacht Club)

2nd Gold Fleet – Morgan Lyttle (Royal St. George Yacht Club) & Patrick Whyte (Lough Ree Yacht Club)

3rd Gold Fleet – Ben Graf (Lough Ree Yacht Club) & Alexander Farrell (Lough Ree Yacht Club)

Silver fleet

2019 Leinsters 1st Silver fleet1st Silver fleet

2019 Leinsters 2nd Silver fleet2nd Silver fleet

2019 Leinsters 3rd Silver fleet3rd Silver fleet

1st Silver Fleet – Siofra Collins (Galway Bay Sailing Club) & Rory Collins (Galway Bay Sailing Club)

2nd Silver Fleet – Alex Leech (Lough Ree Yacht Club) & Lughaidh Croasdell (Lough Ree Yacht Club)

3rd Silver Fleet – Lauren McDowell (Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club) & Robert O’Brien (Clontarf Yacht Club)

Published in 420
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The Schull half term 420 sailing week is the longest of the Irish 420 open training events and the training days are often followed by the Munster Regional Championships as was the case this year.

The four days of training at Schull provided a mixture of on the water and land-based sessions in the purpose-built Fastnet Marine and Outdoor Education Centre. The intensive week is planned out and delivered by experienced coaches with extensive sailing knowledge as well as the skills required to deliver classroom-based sessions to the sailors.

420 sailing at Schull week 2019420 sailing at Schull Week 2019

The International 420 has provided the natural pathway for many sailors and choosing the 420 pathway provides sailors with the essential skills they will need whatever their next step in sailing. It is the perfect boat to develop skill in strategy, tactics, boat handling, tuning and technique. Whilst the 420 is accessible and easy to start to sail – it is also a high-performance boat which demands excellent skills to compete at the top level.

2019 420 Munster Championships Silver Fleet prize winners420 Munster Championships Silver Fleet prize winners

The week delivered a range of weather with sublime sailing days bookending the week and providing a variety of conditions for sailors to test their skills in between. For some of the more experienced sailors came the opportunity to test their skills in wind speeds up to 25knots and above, which provided scintillating conditions for 420 sailing, especially upwind. The boats are designed to plane easily, yet the hull shape gives a measure of stability. Should a capsize occur, the 420 is safe and easy to right and comes up with little water in it due to its buoyancy lifting the hull out of the water. The controls allowed a variety of crew weights to get maximum speed on the water, as well as enabling sailing in higher wind strengths and in choppy sea states that other dinghies struggle to sail in.

The training days set the sailors up nicely for the 2019 Munster Regional Championships held on the Friday and Saturday. Day 1 of racing on Friday brought very strong winds ranging from 25 to 35 knots so racing was cancelled for the day allowing the sailors time to enjoy some of the sights and scenes of south-west Cork. The winds moderated for Saturday and with all the sailors primed the weather duly delivered an exceptional days racing. With racing held within the bay to avoid the large Atlantic swell, still running after the previous days strong winds, a series of six races were completed. The first three races produced three different winners but as the series progressed the Kane/Gallagher combination showed excellent boat speed and consistency to finish with four race wins. However the eagerness to get out of the traps early in the first race series of the year led to a number of OCS results being carded across the fleet and with Kane/Gallagher picking up two of them, this opened the door for Lyttle/Whyte to take the Championships ahead of Graff and Farrell.

Gold Fleet results
1st Morgan Lyttle (Royal St George Yacht Club) and Patrick Whyte (Lough Ree Yacht Club)
2nd Ben Graff and Alexander Farrell (Lough Ree Yacht Club)
3rd Lucy Kane (East Antrim Boating Club) and Emma Gallagher (Malahide Yacht Club)

Silver Fleet results
1st Harry Shackelton and Christopher Evans Garrett (Howth Yacht Club)
2nd Olivia Cure and Isabella Irwin (Galway Bay Sailing Club)
3rd Andrew Boyle and Ben Patterson (Malahide Yacht Club)

As important as the sailing during Schull week are the opportunities to meet other sailors and parents from a variety of clubs around the country with the sailors holding a dinner at the Schull Harbour Hotel after the first days racing.

Published in 420
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Irish 420 sailors have been out testing their skills in the strong breeze on Lough Ree this winter in anticipation of a full calendar of events starting with the first 420 regional championships of 2019 at the Fastnet Marine and Outdoor Training Centre in Schull County Cork in a month's time from February 22nd to 23rd.

420 Sailing on Lough Ree

Last Sunday was a perfect day for a midwinter's morning blast. The Lough Ree 420 sailors took full advantage of the conditions.

Building on the success of its Mirror fleet, Lough Ree Yacht Club are building an active 420 fleet.

With the addition of a trapeze and a good deal more speed, it’s the natural progression for sailors who have already developed double-handed sailing skills.

Former 420 sailor Robert Dickson, who recently won the U23 49er World Championship with Seán Waddilove, has been running coaching weekends to help to develop the class.

In response to parents who have sought guidance on what boat to advance to once their sailors have left Optimists, Lough Ree Yacht Club has mapped out it’s own ‘youth pathway programme’.

Single-handed sailors move from Optimists to Lasers. Mirror sailors progress into the 420. Sailors are encouraged to try both double-handed and single-handed to develop a complete set of sailing skills.

2019 Calendar

As previously reported by, the fleet then returns to Wexford Harbour Boat and Tennis Club for the 2019 420 Leinster Championships on March 30th.

On April 25th, the  2019 Irish Sailing Youth Pathway Championships will be the selection event for the Team travelling to the 2019 Junior European Championships.

In July, the National Championships will the year be part of the very exciting Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

The 420 Connacht Championships returns to Galway Bay Sailing Club on August 17.

The Ulster Championships will once again be part of the RYA Northern Ireland Youth Championships on September 21.

Published in 420
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For the first time in their domestic event season this year the 420s had some breeze to stretch their legs, it has taken until September for an event to provide moderate to strong breezes and the 2018 Ulster Championships duly delivered some great breeze as part of the RYA Northern Ireland Youth Championships hosted by the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club.

Belfast Lough can provide some challenging conditions when the wind starts to build, Saturday provided a day with some early sunshine and a breeze in the 10-15 knots range with the occasional squall, but the Lyttle/Whyte combination scored three first places to lead overnight. Sunday promised more breeze which duly arrived and favoured the slightly heavier crews. Two races were run on Sunday before the race officer called it a day. The Lyttle/Whyte combination thrived in the stronger 17-20+ knot breeze and were pushed hard by the 2nd and 3rd place boats of Thompson/Quaid and Kane/Williamson. As the breeze strengthened to 20 knots and above the crews pushed the boats hard with some exhilarating sailing as the 420s planed both on the up and downwind legs of the course.

The final positions for the 2018 Ulster Championships were as follows:

1st Morgan Lyttle/Patrick Whyte – Royal St. George Yacht Club/Lough Ree Yacht Club

2nd Daniel Thompson/Dan Quaid – Wexford Harbour Boat and Tennis Club

3rd Lucy Kane/Abby Williamson – East Antrim Boat Club

Published in 420
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With Autumn bringing on the start of a new academic year, the 420 Class Association traditionally takes a look ahead for the next twelve months to map out training and events through the remainder of 2018 and across 2019. 

2017/18 was a busy 12 months with over 70 open training days around the country for sailors, including the October bank holiday training weekend and Schull training week. At home, the 420s had their four regional Championships, the 420 National Championships and the Volvo Irish Sailing Youth Pathway Nationals. In 2018 the 420 Association sent a team to the Junior European Championships in Portugal during the summer and were also represented at the 420 Worlds in Newport Rhode Island. The Irish 420 class were also represented at the UK National Championships, the UK Inland Championships and the UK Spring Championships plus regattas in La Rochelle, Palamos and San Remo making it one 2018 a very busy year to date for the class and there are still four months remaining in the year!

Looking ahead to the next 12 months the 420 Class Association has already planned a number of their own domestic events and tied these in with the International 420 calendar as currently known at this point in time:


15th and 16th September - RYANI open training at Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club
29th and 30th September – 2018 420 Ulster Championships/RYANI Youth Nationals at Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club
20th and 21st October - UK Inland Championships at Rutland, a rerun of the event cancelled earlier in the year
27th to 29th October - October bank holiday weekend open training at the National Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire
17th and 18th November – UK End of Season Championships at Grafham


Monday 18th to Thursday 21st February - Schull Training week during Spring half term
22nd and 23rd February – 2019 Munster Championships, Schull
16th and 17th March – UK Inland Championships at Rutland
6th and 7th April – UK Spring Championships at Weymouth
Irish sailing Youth Pathway Nationals – Details to be confirmed
3rd to 11th July – 420 World Championships, Portugal
Junior European Championships- date and venue to be confirmed
Depending on dates for the Junior Europeans, dates for the following will be set:
2019 Irish National Championships
2019 Leinster Regional Championships
17th and 18th August – 2019 Connaught Championships at Galway Bay Sailing Club
September – 2019 Ulster Championships, date and venue TBC

Published in 420
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Nicola and Fiona Ferguson from the National Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire, competed in the 420 World Championships in Newport, Rhode Island, from 10th-15th August.

167 boats from 18 countries competed in this event. Sailors travelled from all parts of the USA, Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the US Virgin Islands. Nicola and Fiona were the only Irish team.

There were 3 fleets: 420 Open, Open Women’s and U17. Nicola and Fiona competed in the Open Women’s fleet. 12 races took place over the six-day event. Spanish sisters, Maria and Pilar Caba Hernandez won the Women's Open Championship, jumping from 5th place going into the final day.

The Spanish sailors dominated the podium, coming 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the Open Women's Championship. Nicola and Fiona Ferguson finished off the Championship in 31st position, which they are delighted with, being their first World’s event, which has no age limit for competing sailors.

Published in 420
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420 week concluded today at Howth Yacht Club with the third day of racing in the 2018 420 Open and National Championships. And what a week it was, it kicked off with a three-day training module followed by a second one-day training module prior to the start of championship racing. 

The first two days of racing were in moderate winds. Day one produced a nine-point spread covering first to fifth positions and this spread increased to eighteen points at the end of day two when a pattern emerged with the GBR team of Alex Colquitt/Rebecca Coles putting together a string of race wins to carry a score of 6 points ahead of Grace O’Beirne/Kathy Kelly of the Royal St. George on 13 points and Gemma Mc Dowell/Emma Gallagher on 17 points of Malahide Yacht Club. Tied on 24 points each, fourth overall and third Irish boat were Micheal O’Suilleabhan/Rob Keal of Kinsale Yacht Club and Morgan Lyttle/Patrick White of the Royal St. George Yacht Club and Lough Ree Yacht Club respectively. 

"It is never over until it is over and a lot can happen in the final downwind leg followed by a mark rounding to the finish"

So it was all to play for on the final day with two races held in a freshening but challenging breeze that was oscillating through 60 degrees and ranging from 6 to 14 knots. Alex Colquitt and Rebecca Coles had enough cushion to all but have wrapped up the open title so the real contest was going to be for the Irish National Champions title and the Irish Sailing medals. Race 8 allowed the leading GBR boat to nail down the Open Champions title with another win but the chase to be Irish Champion hotted up with Mc Dowell/Gallagher closing the gap on the leading Irish boat of O’Beirne/Kelly to three points. So all to play for in the last race and the title was won between the final weather mark and the finish. With Mc Dowell/Gallagher rounding the final weather mark in first place hotly pursued by Colquitt/Coles it looked as if they may have done enough to close out the 420 National Championship title with O’Beirne/Kelly rounding in fifth. But it is never over until it is over as the saying goes and a lot can happen in the final downwind leg followed by a mark rounding to the finish. The tight battle between the two leading boats in the final race ended with Colquitt/Coles claiming another win (see attached image) and the first two boats were able to then wait to see how the race was unfolding behind them. The next three boats were closely spaced and O’Beirne/Kelly were able to reel in the two boats ahead of them so that when a luffing duel started they were able to surge through to take third place in the final race and with it the title of Irish National Champions and first ladies crew.

The 420 Association congratulated Howth Yacht Club on their excellent hosting of the event, both the top quality training and the race management led by PRO Larry Power.

420 Nats 1st Gold and 2018 Open Champions Alex Colquitt and Rebecca Coles West Kirby Sailing ClubAnnadale Sailing Club420 Nats 1st Gold and 2018 Open Champions Alex Colquitt and Rebecca Coles of West Kirby Sailing Club and Annadale Sailing Club

420 Nats 2rd Gold Irish National Champions and Irish Sailing Gold medailists Grace OBeirne and Kathy Kelly Royal St George Yacht Club Yacht Club420 Nats 2nd Gold Irish National Champions and Irish Sailing Gold medalists Grace O'Beirne and Kathy Kelly Royal St George Yacht Club Yacht Club

420 Nats 3rd Gold and Irish Sailing Silver medailists Gemma Mc Dowell and Emma Gallagher Malahide Yacht Club420 Nats 3rd Gold and Irish Sailing Silver medalists Gemma Mc Dowell and Emma Gallagher Malahide Yacht Club

420 Nats 4th Gold and Irish Sailing Bronze medailists Micheal OSuilleabhain and Rob Keal Kinsale Yacht Club420 Nats 4th Gold and Irish Sailing Bronze medailists Micheal OSuilleabhain and Rob Keal Kinsale Yacht Club

Gold fleet:

1st – 2018 420 Irish Open Champion – Alex Colquitt and Rebecca Coles of West Kirby Sailing Club and Annadale Sailing Club respectively

2nd – 2018 420 Irish Champion and first ladies crew plus Irish Sailing Gold medal winners – Grace O’Beirne and Kathy Kelly of the Royal St. George Yacht Club

3rd - Irish Sailing Silver medal winners – Gemma McDowell and Emma Gallagher of Malahide Yacht Club

4th - Irish Sailing Bronze medal winners – Micheal O’Suilleabhain and Rob Keal of Kinsale Yacht Club

420 Nats 1st silver Daniel Hopkins and Robert OBrien Howth Yacht ClubClontarf Yachting and Boating Club420 Nats 1st silver Daniel Hopkins and Robert OBrien Howth Yacht Club and Clontarf Yachting and Boating Club

420 Nats 2nd silver Cian Lynch and Daniel Thompson Wexford Harbour Boat and Tennis Club420 Nats 2nd silver Cian Lynch and Daniel Thompson Wexford Harbour Boat and Tennis Club

420 Nats 3rd silver Louis Mills and Harry Ingram Holyhead Sailing Club420 Nats 3rd silver Louis Mills and Harry Ingram Holyhead Sailing Club

Silver fleet:

1st – Daniel Hopkins and Robert O’Brien of Howth Yacht Club and Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club respectively

2nd – Cian Lynch and Daniel Thompson of Wexford Harbour Boat and Tennis Club

3rd – Louis Milla and Harry Ingram of Holyhead Sailing Club

Published in 420
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