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Peter McCann & Daire Cournane secure unique “3 in a row” for RCYC at the Irish Oppie Nationals

While Team Ireland was performing heroics in the Commodores Cup success at Cowes, the younger sailors of the Royal Cork were sailing with distinction at the Irish National and Open Championships at Waterford Harbour Sailing Club from the 17th to 21st August.


In the eleven race event, Peter McCann won the Senior National and Open Titles on 18 points, while Daire Cournane won the Junior National and Open Titles on a meagre 12 points.

In doing so, they made a little bit of history, making it “three in a row” for the club and adding to the successful runs of 2008 and 2009, when the RCYC again produced both the Senior and Junior Champions. (In 2008 Richard Harrington Senior and Sèafra Guilfoyle Junior) (In 2009 Sèafra Guilfoyle Senior and Peter McCann Junior).

Peter has had a remarkable season at National and International level and in particular his performance in the European Championships was outstanding. Daire has also had a remarkable season and it is more than likely, subject to checking all records, that he has achieved the honour of becoming the first sailor at Junior level to lift all five titles in the one season.

The five day event was run magnificently by Waterford Harbour Sailing Club and we should take our hats off to the smooth and efficient organisation of WHSC which hosted a thoroughly enjoyable event. Every element of the management of the event was a credit to them but I have to single out their slip way management and RIB recovery systems as being among the most efficient I have experienced.

The following lists the involvement and successes of our young sailors.

Tuesday 17th August

The day dawned with relatively light conditions and lovely sunshine in the sunny South East.

Race 1.

In the Junior fleet’s first race, Daire Cournane had his first taste of the British Team’s  intentions, when he was made the filling in  the sandwich of two of the UK sailors, settling (on  this occasion) for 2nd place. 4th place was taken by Daire’s young brother Ronan and  Claire O’Sullivan had a great result finishing in 8th position, as did Jamie Tingle 17th and Mike Varnam in 20th. 10 year old Richard McGinley was to have his best result of the Nationals in 42nd.

In the Seniors’ first race it was a question of Oops ! as Aran Holman GBR5999 ( 4th in the British Nationals) pipped Peter McCann for first place. Peter had finished 6th in Weymouth behind Master Hollman and one wondered was the same pattern going to unfold for the Irish Nationals. Thankfully, as the event progressed, Peter showed that former results are only there to be surpassed !

Peter’s 2nd was followed by his RCYC clubmates, John Durcan 3rd, Patrick Crosbie 4th, Sèafra Guilfoyle 6th and Jil McGinley in 14th .

Race 2.

In the  Junior fleet Daire Cournane showed that he was finished with sandwiches when he showed a clean pair of heels to the pursuing English and took his opening 1st place. The closest RCYC sailor to follow was again, Ronan Cournane in a great 7th finish.

In the Senior fleet, local sailor Ruairi Finnegan (WHSC) had an impressive win and snapping at his heels was Peter McCann in 2nd, followed by John Durcan 3rd, Philip Brownlow 6th ,Sèafra Guilfoyle 13th, Louise Shanahan had an excellent 14th place finish, with Harry Whitaker a close follower in 15th. Maeve O’Sullivan had a solid 29th in the 62 boat fleet.

Wednesday 18th August

The day dawned with plenty of breeze much to the delight of the larger sailors.

Race Three

The Junior race was won by visiting GBR sailor Daniel Whitley with Daire Cournane settling for 2nd. Ronan Cournane followed closely in a magnificent 3rd position and this finish was to be the 11 year old’s best result of the event.

In the Senior fleet Patrick Crosbie began his assault on the Nationals with a 1st followed by Peter McCann 2nd, Philip Brownlow an impressive 3rd, Sèafra Guilfoyle 5th, Sophie Browne 7th, John Durcan 14th Jil McGinley in 15th and Eva Donworth sailed courageously to secure a 24th finish.

Race Four.

Daire Cournane struck back in tremendous fashion securing 1st place and the closest RCYC sailor to finish behind him, was guess who ? ………….his brother Ronan in 18th place. Matthew Kehoe had his best result in 40th position in the 85 boat fleet.

The Senior fleet race, was a repeat of the previous race with Patrick Crosbie a well earned 1st and Peter McCann in 2nd followed by the consistent John Durcan in 4th, Sèafra Guilfoyle 9th, Philip Brownlow 16th and Jil McGinley 17th.

Race Five.

The Junior sailing machine of Daire Cournane sailed relentlessly onwards taking another 1st place. For some unknown reason his brother Ronan went AWOL finishing in 35th. Anna Kelly had a solid 25th and Thomas McGrath in 36th had his best result of the event.

In the Senior fleet, Sèafra Guilfoyle last year’s champion, now growing at the rate of an inch a week, showed there was life in the old dog yet and took 1st place followed by the inseperable Patrick and Peter in 2nd and 3rd places respectively. Right behind this trio came John Durcan in 4th. Sophie Browne was 11th and Jil McGinley came in 19th. Rory Martin had a 36th which was no mean achievement at the end of an exhausting days sailing.

Thursday 19th August

Early morning risers woke to similar windy conditions to the day before and the PRO was determined to get three races in. He succeeded most admirably.

Race Six.

In the Junior race Daire Cournane was subjected to an English onslaught with three GBR’s pushing him into 4th place and his worst result of the event. His brother Ronan back from AWOL came in 18th position. Anna Kelly improved on the previous race to a 22nd position and Charley Breen only recently recovering from her appendix operation, had her best result of the event, finishing a solid 42nd in the 85 boat fleet.

In the Senior race, Peter McCann tightened his hold on the Championship with another fine win. RCYC’s following behind were Sèafra Guilfoyle in 4th, John Durcan 6th, Patrick Crosbie 11th, Sophie Browne 12th, Harry Whitaker 19th and Philip Brownlow 20th.

Race 7.

The GBR assault continued in the Junior Division with Daire Cournane being sailed into 2nd place. Anna Kelly 25th and Claire O’Sullivan 27th had solid finishes.

The Seniors was won by Sean Waddilove of HYC/SSC ahead of Peter McCann with John Durcan 9th, Sèafra Guilfoyle 10th, Sophie Browne 12th, Jil McGinley 14th, Harry Whitaker 15th and Eoin Lyden finally finding form to take his first top 20 finish in 17th place. Eva Donworth had another good race and took 25th position.

Friday 20th August

There was plenty of wind again but out on the race course the sailors were to be greeted with huge swells towering over them. At times not even the tips of the sailors masts could be seen in the troughs. The courage of all of the sailors who took part in this day of racing is to be greatly admired and lauded. It was not a day for the faint hearted and certainly not for those adults in particular, who might be inclined to succumb to sea sickness.

Race 8

You can’t keep Daire Cournane down for long as he responded to the GBR threat with an emphatic win. Mike Varnam had his best result of the Nationals in 16th place. and Richard Thompson finally found his weather legs finishing a very creditable 22nd place.

Sean Waddilove struck again for a 1st place in the Senior race. Royal Cork had Peter 3rd, Sèafra 5th, Patrick 6th, Sophie 8th and John 10th. That was five RCYC sailors in the top ten.

The PRO, being advised of worsening conditions, abandoned racing for the day after just the one race.

Saturday 21st August

There was a constant breeze with a swell but the swell was nothing of the magnitude of the previous day.

Race 9

Daire again 1st. The English challenge was faltering rapidly. Ronan Cournane was back to his best taking 6th place. Claire O’Sullivan had a great 21st, Anna Kelly another 22nd, Adam D’Darcy had an unusual score of 32.5, and Criofan Guilfoyle in his battered boat came in 35th place for his best result of the event.

In the Seniors, Team GBR took 1st with Peter in 2nd. Sophie Browne earned a remarkable 4th place in the very difficult conditions. Patrick was 6th and the ever improving Harry Whitaker finished in 9th position.

Race 10

Robert Dickson of HYC took first place in the Junior fleet with Daire in 2nd place.

The next Royal Cork sailor was Barry Shanahan in a marvellous 23rd position and his best result of the nationals.

In the Senior fleet, Sèafra, thinking this was to be his last Optimist race, threw caution to the wind and secured first place. Sophie had a remarkable 2nd place, Patrick was 3rd, the ever improving (I wonder why !) Harry Whitaker pulled off an astonishing 6th place. John Durcan got 10th place and Peter McCann uncharacteristically finished in 12th place.

Race 11

In the true style of champions Daire Cournane finished the event in style with his sixth 1st place. Not to be outdone, his brother Ronan also finished in great style in 8th position. Richard Thompson showed he had left the best wine until last pulling of a 17th finish for his best placing at the event.

Similarly, in the Seniors, showing the stuff of which champions are made, Peter McCann took on Finnish sailor Tom Wendt in a race that was fought neck and neck all the way around, at times both boats were side by side, and even though Peter had the event won at this stage, he refused to give in and in the last hundred metres gradually took the lead by about a boat length to win the race, the National and the Open Championship.

He was followed home by Patrick in 4th, Sophie in 6th, Sèafra in 7th , the really, really improved Harry Whitaker in 8th , and John Durcan in 10th.

Nationals Senior Team Cup

This was won for the second year in succession by RCYC with the winning team made up of Peter McCann, Patrick Crosbie and Sèafra Guilfoyle.

Regatta Fleet

Lucy Donworth finished best of the RCYC in 13th place and had three top 10 finishes to her credit.

Luke McGrath finished in 28th place and had a tremendous 9th place finish among his results.

9 year old Emily Whitaker finished in 54th place and showed that she has great promise for the future.

For the record:

  1. In the Senior fleet, the Royal Cork had five sailors in the top ten and nine sailors overall in the top twenty.
  2. Dr. Larrie Martin’s long service to the Nationals was honoured at prize giving, when he received a presentation to mark his 17th attendance at the Nationals.

Once again our sailors behaviour was exemplary both on and off the water and we are as proud of that as we are of the fantastic results achieved all round.

Click on the links below for the results:

Senior Fleet

Junior Fleet

Regatta Fleet

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