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Displaying items by tag: Optimist

The Irish tricolour featured very high on the results board at last weekend's IOCA Volvo Gill, Optimist British Spring Championships at Royal Lymington Yacht Club.

Ireland's winning weekend of sailing saw nine sailors in the top 20. The Irish Team took home seconnd place Luke Turvey (HYC & NYC), 3rd place Harry Twomey (RCYC & CHSC), 4th place Johnny Flynn (HYC/ Rsatgyc), 6th James Dwyer Mathews (RCYC/KYC), 9th Hugh Turvey (HYC & NYC), 10th Rocco Wright (HYC/NYC), 11th Justin Lucas (RCYC/TBSC), 15th Michael Crosbie (RCYC) and 20th Patrick Bruen (RCYC).

Luke Turvey Johnny Flynn Harry Twomey 3rd placeLuke Turvey (2nd place), Johnny Flynn (4th place) and Harry Twomey (3rd place)

Rocco Wright also took home the Best Junior Sailor trophy and Alana Twomey (RCYC & CHSC) was 2nd Junior girl at the event

rocco wrightRocco Wright - Junior Champion

The Irish sailors were supported by Thomas Chaix and Dara O’Shea 

Tim Lucas, IODAI President said “It was a wonderful weekend for Irish sailing and a great display of our upcoming talent. It was also great to see our sailors having fun and making new friends with all the British Sailors both on and off the water.”

See the full results here

Published in Optimist
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#Optimist - An independent report into an incident involving Irish Sailing’s junior Optimist squad last year, during which almost half the dinghy fleet sustained significant damage, has criticised the organisation’s coaching systems.

Scroll down the page to download the full report.

The review of the October 2017 incident in Dun Laoghaire Harbour, in which seven sailors were forced to abandon their dinghies in high winds while the lead coach’s RIB lost engine power, found that appropriate preparations had not been put in place for the coaching session.

However, the report defended the coach’s decision to launch the junior fleet as a storm approached, finding that he acted “in good faith” and that he believed a two-hour sailing session was possible.

The report’s criticisms focus on the structure behind the sailing programme, finding that “appropriate equipment, resources and facilities were not provided”. Both the lead and assistant coaches had not met until the morning of the training session, were unfamiliar with their RIBs and launched without VHF radio communications.

Early into the coaching session, winds changed direction and gusts increased in strength. Some of the sailors began to experience difficulties as conditions worsened, so it was decided to abandon the coaching session.

Nine of the squad members returned to shore under their own sail power. However, the remainder of the fleet, in a more open leeward position, got caught in unusually high and confused wave patterns near the East Pier. These seven junior sailors were forced to abandon their dinghies, which eventually sustained significant damaged from impact against the pier wall.

By the time the incident escalated to emergency proportions, the lead coach’s RIB was disabled by a fuel-related engine failure and was drifting towards the East Pier wall. The report applauded the actions of the assistant coach who assumed charge and rescued four sailors from the water.

The review found that the Optimist Squad programme was established without “any obvious or adequately structured project management approach” and that there was “a lack of clarity” as to who was responsible for preparing the coaching session.

This in turn led to “hasty and incomplete preparations”, which failed to provide the coaches with a proper induction and failed to provide “the essential resources, facilities and equipment needed” for the coaching session.

The review recommended a “top-down internal review” of the management of performance coaching programmes. It noted that there was “a complete lack of clarity as to who was directly responsible for making and ensuring that adequate practical preparation was made” for the coaching session, adding that “in such circumstances, balance of judgement must swing toward failures of processes and systems which ought to have been in place, rather than on the actions, or omissions, of any of those individuals directly involved.”

Speaking ahead of the publication of the report, at last Friday's Irish Sailing Awards where he gave the opening address, Irish Sailing President Jack Roy said: “As an adventure sport, sailing has its inherent risks. We know this every time we go afloat. We also know we have a duty to protect ourselves and others."

Roy was referring to two heroic rescues that were saluted on the night but he also used the opportunity to tell the gathering that one of the outcomes from the Optimist Incident report includes "a rigorous overhaul of the association’s own safety guidelines that will be extended to all clubs and classes".

On publication of the report today, Roy told Afloat.ie: "Irish Sailing fully supports the outcomes of the report and have appointed a working group to consider the recommendations, assess how best Irish Sailing can address them, and help with the implementation.

"This group has already begun work on the recommendations and are aiming for initial outcomes to be completed by 31st March 2018."

The full report and the executive summary is downloadable below.

Published in ISA
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#NorthSails - As previously reported, North Sails celebrated a record-smashing year for offshore yachting titans competing with its 3Di performance sails.

But clients of the sailmaker — with a longstanding base in Myrtleville, Co Cork — also had a big year across the One Design classes around the globe.

In the Etchells class, Stella Blue helmed by Steve Benjamin won the 2017 Worlds in San Francisco at an event where fellow North Sails clients Senet Bischoff and KGB took the Corinthian title and finished third overall.

Elsewhere, in Toronto, Rossi Milev’s Clear Air sailed into first place at the J/24 Worlds, the same event where Lizzy McDowell’s U25 Howth Yacht Club team Scandal finished a respectable 42nd amid the mammoth international field.

Fellow Howth sailor Laura Dillon on Cloud finished 33rd in the Dragon World Championships in Cascais last June, which saw North Sails powering clients into first (Provezza Dragon, Andy Beadsworth), third (Alfie, Lawrie Smith), fourth (Desert Eagle, Hendrik Witzmann), fifth (Rocknrolla, Dmitry Samokhin), ninth (Louise, Grant Gordon) and 10th (Jeanie, Jens Rathsack) places overall.

And Spanish sailor María Perelló, using North Sails’ Radial R2, won the girls division at the Optimist Worlds in Thailand last July, where Ireland enjoyed had a strong showing in team racing.

North Sails is the world’s leading sailmaker for One Design classes with more national, world and Olympic class victories than all other sailmakers combined.

Published in North Sails Ireland

Irish Sailing now says that the independent external investigation into the Optimist Squad incident in Dun Laoghaire that was initially due for publication in mid-November will now be published in December.

Irish Sailing President Jack Roy says he expects that the investigation, having reviewed every aspect of the incident, will result in recommendations which, once implemented, will reduce the likelihood of a recurrence of an event such as this.

In an update on progress, Roy explained the delay in publication is due to the extent of the investigation by the independent investigator Philip Scallan and Ger Keeling.

‘Completing this report has taken longer than expected because time had to be allowed to interview all those who wished to contribute. I am confident its recommendations will lead to a safer sport for all of us’, Roy said.

Published in ISA
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A development of the single-handed Optimist dinghy has appeared in New Zealand that converts the boat into a two-handed, planing junior dinghy with a bow!

When his young son asked why Optimists didn’t have a pointy bow like other boats, Matthew Mason developed a clip-on bow and a new rig which can be handled by two lighter kids or one heavier kid.

Mason, a professional boat builder made a presentation on his development at the World Sailing Conference in Mexico earlier this month. He believes the add-on 'could potentially fill in some gaps with children in sailing'.

Listen in to Mason's presentation 'Dad, why doesn't my Optimist have a bow?' below. It also includes video of the 'O-Pro' sailing

Published in Optimist
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Royal Cork's annual Topper and Laser dinghy Frostbite League commenced on November 9 in chilly but bright conditions with fifty five dinghies competing. After seven races sailed, Joe O'Sullivan leads the Topper 4.2 fleet, Jonathan O'Shaughnessy leads a 23–boat 5.3 fleet. Conor Horgan is top of a 13–boat Laser 4.7 fleet.

There was great support from Kinsale Yacht Club who joined the Royal Cork contingent on the water under the watchful eye of Ciaran McSweeney, PRO.

It bodes well for the Munster club that has seen a surge in dinghy sailing.

The has seen the RCYC Laser group finish five days of performance coaching over two weekend's with coaches Michal Gryglewski, Cian Byrne and Tom McGrath. The Topper mid term clinic came to a close after four days with Adam D’Arcy, Eoghan O’Regan and guest coach Alan Ruigrok.

The fleets are looking forward to two more Sundays on the water before the prize giving on Sunday 26th November

Results can be found here

Royal cork yacht sailing dinghies1Royal cork yacht sailing dinghies1Royal cork yacht sailing dinghies1Royal cork yacht sailing dinghies1Royal cork yacht sailing dinghies1Royal cork yacht sailing dinghies1Royal cork yacht sailing dinghies1Royal cork yacht sailing dinghies1Royal cork yacht sailing dinghies1Royal cork yacht sailing dinghies1Royal cork yacht sailing dinghies1

Published in Topper

Last weekend, six Irish Optimist Sailors participated in the The Hague Optimist Cup 2017 in Scheveningen in the Netherlands.

The event was the test event for the 2018 European Optimist Championships, Team Ireland, composed of Leah Rickard, Nathan van Steeberge, Johnny Flynn, Sam Ledoux, Clementine van Steenberge, and Rocco Wright, and coached by Thomas Chaix, joined a field of selected Dutch sailors and teams from Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Latvia, Hungary, Austria, Russia, Greece and Estonia.

The event was impacted by the bad weather pattern over the west of Europe, yet the 81 sailors managed to sail every day. Coach Thomas Chaix secured one solid day of training in light air with a few of the foreign teams before racing started. The event provided 4 competitive races over the 3 blustery days. Day 1 provided a 10 to 15 kts southerly whilst the remaining of the event was in 20kts + varying from West to South. Big waves, exciting downwinds and physical upwinds were the daily menu.

leah rickardLeah Rickard

The Irish sailors were very competitive in the world class field with clear strategies in the very strong currents. Ireland scored two wins courtesy of Johnny Flynn and Leah Rickard and came home with plenty impressive silverware building good confidence towards the Europeans in 8 months time. Four sailors ended their challenge in top 10, The top female was Irish and finally our U11 Clementine and Rocco showed excellent promise for the future.

1st Girl (Champion) and 5th Overall, Leah Rickard, NYC, 16-5-1-3
6th Overall, Nathan Van Steenberge, NYC, 4-8-8-5
7th Overall, Johnny Flynn, HYC, 1-9-2-15
8th Overall, Sam Ledoux, NYC, 14-4-5-9
41st Overall and 3rd U11, Clementine Van Steenberge, NYC, 29-34-12-13
53rd Overall and 7th U11, Rocco Wright, HYC, 30-15-11-UFD

Published in Optimist
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An 'independent external' investigation into Saturday's Irish Sailing Optimist performance squad incident during Storm Brian at Dun Laoghaire is underway.

According to a statement on the association website last night, Irish Sailing President Jack Roy and CEO Harry Hermon have appointed Philip Scallan as independent external lead investigator. Scallan has already mapped out the areas of investigation to the President and requested additional time to investigate and consult with all parties.

It is understood a board meeting of the national governing body was held last night.

Roy commented: “Our priority is always the safety of our sailors and we are determined to establish all the facts relating to this incident. We look forward to receiving Mr Scallan’s report and implementing his recommendations so that we learn as much as we can from what happened and maintain the confidence of sailors and their families in our programmes”.

The statement says Scallan is a Safety Officer with many years of experience assessing and implementing safety standards in Irish and international sailing events. He will be assisted in this external investigation by Ger Keeling, a marine engineer and former CEO of the International Marine Rescue Federation who works with both Irish Water Safety and the RNLI.

According to the association, Scallan, who is based in the UK, will be travelling to Dun Laoghaire over the weekend and requests that any parent, sailor, witness, coach or any other party who feels that their contribution is relevant to the investigation, to get in contact with him promptly at [email protected]

Following a review of all the information received, and consultations with all the parties involved, Scallan and Keeling will also review Irish Sailing’s health and safety protocols before presenting their report which is expected to be finalised by mid-November and published.

Published in ISA

W M Nixon on the aftermath of Saturday's Optimist dinghy training incident during Storm Brian.

“A boat, by God, it’s just a gleamin’ beautiful creation. And when you pull the sail up on a boat, you’ve got a little bit of somethin’ God-given. Man, it goes bleetin’ off like a bird wing, you know, and there’s nothin’ else like it.”

The speaker was Clark Mills of Clearwater, Florida, who very rightly was recently inducted posthumously into American Sailing’s Hall of Fame. In 1947, Clark Mills developed the design of the Optimist dinghy for the kids of his community in response to a request from two public-spirited citizens, who reckoned that a hyper-economical little sailing boat would encourage children to interact positively with the warm and wonderful sailing waters of their sun-blessed neighbourhood.

Clark Mills was an ingenious back-street boatbuilder whose seemingly unassuming design was so clever that three Optimists could be built out of four sheets of standard 8ft x 4ft marine plywood. But it remained a localized way of making sailing accessible until a Scandinavian sail training ship was in port, and the captain was very impressed with these little sailing prams.

clark millsClark Mills (1915-2001) designer and first builder of the Optimist Dinghy in 1947, has recently been posthumously inducted into American Sailing’s Hall of Fame

So he took one of them on board his tall ship, and brought her home to Sweden, and that was the end of the Age of Innocence for the Optimist dinghy. Once the Scandinavians had decided that these wonderful little boxes were the future of sailing for their young children despite their own tradition of very elegant sailing craft, the Optimist dinghy went global, and now more than 300,000 have been built.

It’s far indeed from the balmy sandy islands of Clearwater to the old granite pond of Dun Laoghaire on a late October Saturday, when the cream of Irish Optimist sailing – sixteen young helms from all over Ireland and their rather expensive boats - have been assembled on a long-planned, intensive and costly training session with a coach who is renowned for his ability to empathise with the junior sailors, and greatly improve their performance.

The pressure is on for busy instructive sailing, but the pressure meteorologically speaking is through the floor, as the centre of Storm Brian approaches Dublin Bay in textbook style. It’s so pure textbook that a patch of blue sky actually appears. But there’s a nice breeze, and the kids are sent out sailing because, after all, they’re in a harbour which is a giant pond, and if the weather does deteriorate, the pond provides shelter and security.

But within 25 minutes, the weather goes beyond deterioration. It falls off a cliff. Classic style again, the centre of the low has moved to the northeast: “Sharp rise after low, foretells a stronger blow”. The sudden west to northwest wind was over 40 knots, with a highest recorded gust in Dun Laoghaire of 51 knots, and that with dense air to increase the pressure even further.

Close in against the East Pier, the harbour becomes a boiling cauldron of backwash with completely unsailable conditions, and the four Optimists near it are jammed against the wall. But as it’s high water it’s possible to haul their young skippers ashore. The rest of the fleet managed to return to base, and all are well scared, but are soon recovering as kids do.

Or at least that’s how they show it, for these after all are the elite squad, and there’s peer pressure. Either way, it has to be clearly asserted that the outcome of all the continuing deliberations on this incident should place the effect it has had and is having on the kids first, middle, and last.

They’re a remarkably mature bunch of young people for their age, but the organisation of society is such that all responsibility in a situation like this ultimately falls on adults, and we as a sailing community will be judged on how this is worked out in the days, weeks and months ahead.

Inevitably, officialdom will have to move at its own ponderous pace, but meanwhile the kids, the parents and the Optimist sailing world in Ireland are moving at their own different paces to take the experience in board, while getting on with life at the same time.

Talking to a parent who had two kids rescued from the East Pier, he says their resilience is a wonder to behold. One is already sailing again in a team racing series, and the other is keenly anticipating another Optimist training session this weekend. As for sailing’s real community, the local rather than the official, they have been quietly doing good work by stealth – the only true good work – by lending replacement boats for those whose craft have been damaged or wrecked, in order that the programme can continue with just this one interruption.

On the business side, the parent to whom we talked felt much more sanguine about a satisfactory insurance settlement than he had at the beginning of the week. And even though all the parents are still in something of a state of shock, the needs and expectations of the keen kids are encouraging them to move on and be positive.

For outsiders, all this may sound almost too good to be true. But anyone who has been even on the edge of the Optimist world will know that it’s one very extraordinary place. It’s not for everyone by any means. But for those for whom it clicks, it’s a miraculous and marvellous experience.

So as we see the wheels of officialdom begin to turn, with positions being taken up as various organisations seek to protect their image and their good standing, is it too much to ask that the top people remember to take on board the opinions of the kids involved every bit as much as they take into consideration the storm of criticism which has spread across social media?

Teaching and coaching are very special talents. But just because you’re very good at helping young people to sail even faster, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can make sage judgments about future weather and the organisation of events. In fact, shared enthusiasm across the generations about improved performance can be a potent force for clouding judgment. That seems to have happened here. We’re not trying to make excuses. We’re just trying to explain how something happened.

So as people sound off about the need “to make heads roll”, how about quietly asking the 16 kids involved what they think?

That surely is what Clark Mills would have done.

Published in Dublin Bay
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Irish Sailing, the national governing body for the sport in Ireland, has issued a statement following the rescue of its 16-boat National Optimist Squad during Storm Brian on Saturday lunchtime in Dun Laoghaire Harbour. In the statement, released yesterday, the association says 'all usual risk assessments were undertaken before launching and the forecast was for a weather window providing reasonable conditions for such activity'. 

Irish Sailing also says it is 'now investigating what protocols and assessments may need to be reviewed and/or revised so that we maintain all safety standards'. Read the full statement below.

The rescue, reported by Afloat.ie here, involved local yacht club RIBs, Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard and RNLI inshore boats. The incident was widely reported in the weekend media and attracted significant social media comment. Joe Mag Raollaigh of RTE News captured video of one of the Oppy dinghies being wrecked against the harbour wall as north-westerly winds reached over 40–knots.

Storm Brian Scenes90379644Big breeze for training in Dun Laoghaire Harbour. Photo: Stephen Collins of Collins Picture Agency

Stephen Collins of Collins Picture Agency captured some dramatic pictures of the training session and the rescue and these appeared on Dublin Live here and the Irish Times. The Irish Independent ran a story here.

The ISA Statement reads:  

UPDATE ON OPTIMISTS IN DUN LAOGHAIRE YESTERDAY
'Sixteen Optimists were launched yesterday morning (Saturday 21 October) inside Dun Laoghaire Harbour as part of a routine high-performance training programme, along with the safety boats which are present at all training events. All usual risk assessments were undertaken before launching and the forecast was for a weather window providing reasonable conditions for such activity. A squall came in and the decision was made to send the sailors to shore immediately. The Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard and RNLI inshore boats were launched as a precaution but at that stage all the sailors were onshore. No sailor was harmed.

In circumstances like this, there are tried and tested protocols that come into effect with all bodies working together for a safe outcome. The safety of the sailors was prioritised over equipment. We are now investigating what protocols and assessments may need to be reviewed and/or revised so that we maintain all safety standards'

Following the rescue a number of the children's dinghies were left abandoned overnight in the harbour then picked up the following morning.

oppy recoverA Royal Cork Optimist dinghy is recovered into a RIB off the East Pier at Dun Laoghaire on Sunday

Published in ISA
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