The Optimist Connaught Championships took place at the weekend on the 29th and 30th of May at Lough Derg Yacht Club.
National Trials winner, Peter McCann won the Senior Gold Fleet with a total score of 5 points while Daire Cournane, the current Munster Junior champion, on 5 points also, added the Connaught Junior Title to his growing collection.
Just as it had been at the Munsters, two weeks previous, the wind forecast for the weekend was light winds on Saturday and even lighter winds or possibly no wind on Sunday.
The forecast proved to be correct and with the fleets launching circa 12.00 noon on Saturday, progress to the race area was quite slow. The race officer was anxious to get under way as soon as possible and the first gun went soon after both fleets had arrived to the race area.
In the Senior fleet, Patrick Crosbie, in conditions that were light and shifty, raced a very sensible race to take first place, followed by Peter McCann. Then, what has now become something of a feature this year, came the RCYC pack or peleton , this time it was, Seafra Guilfoyle in 5th, Philip Brownlow 6th, Cian Byrne 7th, Harry Whitakker 8th, and Eoin Lyden 11th.
In the Junior fleet’s first race, Daire Cournane served early warning of his intentions with a 1st, followed then for RCYC, by his brother Ronan in 7th Jamie Tingle 9th and Criofan Guilfoyle 10th.
Race 2, the Junior fleet got away in very light wind and made painful progress up the first beat. The Senior fleet then followed and as the difficulties encountered showed no signs of improving, the OD shortened both courses and finished both fleets in good time, as otherwise both races might have had to be abandoned.
The Junior race was won by the ever consistent Daire Cournane followed by the rapidly improving Conor O’Beirne (RStGYC) 2nd and Sandy Aplin (RStGYC) in 3rd.Next best for RCYC were Adam D’arcy with a well earned 8th place and Ronan Cournane in 10th.
In the Senior Race 2, Peter McCann had a well deserved 1st, with Patrick Crosbie 3rd, and Eoin Leyden in a great 5th finish. The RCYC peleton did not feature in this race mainly due to the lack of wind and Jill McGinley was the only other RCYC sailor in the top ten with a well deserved 9th place.
Race 3. got under way on a shortened course. The junior race was won by Fergus Flood (HYC) and Daire Cournane uncharacteristically finished in 7th , followed by Adam D’Arcy with his second 8th position, in successive races.
Race 3 for the Senior fleet was won in great fashion by Ruairi Finnegan (WHSC) when, with only yards to go, from 3rd position, he very cleverly overtook our own Patrick Crosbie 2nd and Peter McCann 3rd to take the honour. The RCYC peleton was missing again, and only Seafra Guilfoyle 8th and Jill McGinley made a top ten finish.
The wind had begun to rise slightly at this stage and the Race Officer made the brave decision that a 4th race would be run due to the likelihood that there might not be sufficient wind to hold any races on Sunday.
Race 4 Junior: Daire Cournane showed that his previous race was a temporary aberration when he once again, in fine style, claimed 1st place.
Race 4 Senior: Peter McCann also showed that his previous race was a temporary hiccup when he stormed back into 1st place, and in so doing began to put a stranglehold on the Championship. Thankfully, the RCYC peleton was back with Sophie Browne 3rd, Philip Brownlow 4th, Seafra Guilfoyle 5th , Harry Whitaker 7th and Patrick Crosbie in the unaccustomed position of 10th.
Sunday dawned with the possibility that the breeze present at launching might stay with the fleets.
Race 5 Junior, got under way and in lightening conditions was won by Harry Craig (RStGYC) with Daire Cournane wrapping up the Connaught Junior title in 2nd place. He was followed by Matthew Kehoe with a magnificent 4th place, Ronan Cournane 5th and Adam D’Arcy with his best result of the championship in 6th place.
Race 5 for the Seniors commenced and the wind started to decline completely, to the extent, that by the time the Senior fleet commenced their last run, there was hardly a puff of wind present. As the leaders slowly made their way to the last mark a traffic jam developed and there was some serious shouting going on. Peter McCann held on to 1st place from Seafra Guilfoyle 2nd, Philip Brownlow 3rd, Patrick Crosbie 4th, Harry Whitaker 6th, Cian Byrne 8th and Sophie Browne 9th . The RCYC peleton was well and truly back in position finishing the event in fine style.
The conditions were so bad at the finish that 32 of the fleet were out of time and it was a great credit to the skill and perseverance of the young RCYC sailors that we had seven sailors finish in the top ten.
The threat of Race 6 hung in the air until the Race Officer having checked with lookouts in Killaloe and Scarriff, and having learned that there would be no wind coming in the immediate future, declared that there would not be a sixth race. Needless to say, this brought whoops of delight from all of the young sailors on the lake.
Peter McCann had deservedly won the Senior Title but had been pushed all the way by his clubmate, Patrick Crosbie in 2nd place. Eva Donworth claimed 5th overall in the Senior Silver fleet with Louise Shanahan just outside the prizes in 6th place overall.
Daire Cournane won his second title of the season and is one to keep an eye on for the remainder of the season.
The Junior silver fleet was won by Daniel Raymond (NYC) , Ronan Cournane was a very competitive 2nd and 8th overall in the Junior fleet. Then a truly remarkable achievement by Adam D’Arcy who finished 3rd Silver, not alone did Adam achieve 3rd silver, but he also finished 9th overall in the Junior Fleet
Once again, the RCYC Senior sailors, for the second time this season, had seven sailors completing the event in the top ten positions.
In the Regatta fleet, Lucy Donworth was Miss. Consistency, with a 3rd place and three 6th places, to finish top RCYC sailor in fifth place overall, followed by Emily Whitaker in 17th place, Luke McGrath in 18th place, and Rachel Thompson in 26th place.
The RCYC is truly proud of all of it’s young sailors who participated in this event and who brought such honour to the Club by their performances on the water.
Full list of RCYC positions
1st Peter McCann
2nd Patrick Crosbie
5th Sèafra Guilfoyle
6th Philip Brownlow
8th Harry Whitaker
9th Eoin Leyden
10th Sophie Browne
11th Cian Byrne
13th Jill McGinley
30th Eva Donworth
43rd Rory Martin
Sophie Browne and Jill McGinley also honoured the Club by finishing as the first and second placed girls overall.
In the Junior fleet the results were:
1st Daire Cournane
8th Ronan Cournane
9th Adam D’arcy
21st Anna Kelly
26th Criofan Guilfoyle
27th Matthew Kehoe
28th Jamie Tingle
29th Mike Varnam
34th Richard Thompson
35th Claire O’Sullivan
37th Charley Breen
38th Rebecca O’Shaughnessy
39th Barry Shanahan
40th Richard McGinley
44th Harry Durcan
49th James McCann
56th Thomas McGrath