Champagne sailing at the Optimist Connaught Championships.
PRO John Leech when briefing the competitors at the IODAI Connaught Championships on day one promised champagne sailing and that’s exactly what Galway Bay delivered. A beautiful sunny sky and a 12knt sea breeze allowed four races to take place. The extra race on the Saturday was extremely prudent, as the Sunday as predicted, delivered zero knots.
Galway Bay Sailing Club were excellent hosts and the tropical weather saw parents and siblings enjoy a beach side weekend. With water temperatures of 19 degrees most went swimming too. When the weather is good it’s hard to beat the west. The field adjacent to the club allowed many to camp with a great atmosphere at the event.
With all results coming from day one’s racing the fourth race meant that a discard applied and that saw a good mix of new winners on the podium with the Optimists Worlds team away at the World Championships in Bodrum, Turkey. Some lovely Galway Bay Sailing Club handmade event mugs were presented to the competitors in the baking sunshine.
In the 35 boat Main fleet Senior the Gold Fleet the podium was filled by Jules Start of the Royal St George Yacht Club, Sasha Bezpalyi (UKR) of Malahide Yacht Club and Abigail Murphy also of Royal St George Yacht Club, with Grace Gavin of Royal St George and Felix Dion of the National Yacht Club in 4thand 5th respectively. The Silver fleet saw Gemma Brady of Lough Derg Yacht Club win from Stan O’Rourke of Malahide Yacht Club and the National Yacht Club’s Theo Madigan was in 3rd place fourth and fifth place went to Zita Tempany of the Royal St George and Matthew Holden of Ballyhome Yacht Club. The Bronze fleet was won by Alexander Naughton of the Royal St George Yacht Club followed by Orla Turner of Lough Ree Yacht Club and the podium was completed by Kate Barry of the host club. In fourth and fifth place were Conor O’Sullivan of Malahide and Rian Bains of Galway Bay Sailing Club.
In the 34 boat Main Fleet Junior (Oppie age under 13) French newcomer Loughlann Terdenge Devaux of Lough Ree Yacht Club was the winner with Juliette Ryan of Malahide & RSGYC Yacht Club 2nd and Andrew Mannion of Lough Ree in 3rd , fourth was RCYC’s Dougie Venner and fifth from Lough Ree was Mae Byrne completing the Gold Fleet podium. In the Silver fleet sisters Lily and Maeve Donagh of Lough Derg made it a one two with Finn Foley of the Royal St George coming home in 3rd place, fourth was clubmate Max O’Hare and in fifth Annabelle Wilson of Kinsale Yacht Club. In Junior Fleet Bronze, the Royal St George’s siblings Ella and Johnny Rock took 1st and 3rd with Royal Cork’s Abigail O’Sullivan taking the middle spot in second, fourth was Kate Spain of Malahide and in fifth Lough Ree’s Hugo Breen.
The regatta fleet sailors which saw 28 entries had a super time on the water under the watchful tutelage of Kate D’arcy and her team of coaches. The Regatta fleet is all about getting used to racing with small courses and coaching on the water during races. Results are secondary in this fleet are more to show progress with anyone regularly winning prizes encouraged to move up the Junior Fleet.
There is huge activity in the Oppie fleet with the Worlds Team in Bodrum, the IDT (Irish Development Team) currently at the French National Championships and the Europeans team preparing to go to Sonderberg in Denmark at the end of July. The next Irish event is the National Championship at the Royal St George from 11th-14th of August where over 200 boats are expected including a large contingent from the UK