Optimist Sailors from the Royal Cork came home with all the major trophies from the Ulster Championships this weekend. Killian O’Keeffe was 1st Senior Gold, Julie Tingle took the Senior Silver, Seafra Guilfoyle the Junior Gold and Oscar Morehead the Junior Silver.
A substantial raiding party of 28 sailors set out from the club on a mission to the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club in Cultra in search of the promised good weather and excellent hospitality that has become the hallmark of this event over the past few years. While the weather disappointed in many ways the hospitality and the results did not and our sailors dominated the results at all levels.
Conditions on Saturday started very light and racing was postponed for some time for the wind to fill in. Two races were sailed in 12 – 15 knots from the South which made for shifty conditions on the beats to the weather marks on the southern shore of Belfast Lough. When the tide turned after lunchtime the breeze increased and backed to the South East creating a substantial chop. The race officer decided to take the fleet ashore to await developments. The wind continued to increase throughout the afternoon and racing was abandoned for the day. The prospects for racing on Sunday did not look good with a poor forecast.
Sunday started in similar breeze to Saturday but from the West. Two races were completed but by the end of the second race conditions had deteriorated to such an extent that 15 Junior Fleet and 21 senior fleet (who started after the Juniors on the same course) were unable to complete the course. The wind increased to 25-30 knots and the flood tide kicked up substantial waves making sailing Optimists all but impossible to all but the biggest and most experienced. A substantial rescue operation was put into action and all sailors were ashore and accounted for in a relatively short time with the co-operation of the support boats to assist the official rescue boats.
The Senior Gold Fleet was won by Killian O’Keeffe who counted two firsts and a second to win by just three points from our own defending champion Richard Harrington who put up a fine defence with all results in the top 5 in this very competitive fleet of 51 boats. Conor Lyden was pipped for a podium place on a countback.
In the Senior Silver Fleet, Julie Tingle was triumphant with Paul Martin third and Katherine Geoghegan sixth. For Julie and Paul this moves them up to the Gold fleet for future events by virtue of two top six results in regional events.
Seafra Guilfoyle sailed a fine last race to win from Peter McCann in the Junior Gold Fleet. This was a particularly fine achievement for Seafra as he had to put the disappointment of a Black Flag in race three behind him and had to beat Peter in the last race to take the Championship by a point, counting two firsts and a third. Peter counted a 1, 2, 3 and discarded a 4th to finish just a point ahead of another Royal Cork sailor – Philip Brownlow. Patrick Crosbie benefited hugely by not allowing his father to leave the Rebel County and finished 5th overall with a 2, 3 and a 6 in out of a fleet of 44.
Oscar Morehead won the Junior Silver fleet in 11th overall with some fine consistent sailing and a notable 5th in race two to take the Silver fleet by a considerable margin.