Ireland did it in style
International star Class 2008 World Sailing Championships at key Biscayne, Miami
IRELAND DID IT IN STYLE!
Winners of the sixth and final race at the Star World Championships were “The Nippers” Peter O’Leary of Royal Cork Yacht and Stephen Milne of Ballyholme Yacht Club. The pair were known locally as the nippers around the Miami boat park and didn’t they do it in style beating a fleet of the highest rated sailors in the world. The Dun Laoghaire team of Max Treacy and Anthony Shanks of Royal St. George Yacht Club qualified the third country spot for Ireland out of the four remaining country places for Qingdao. They produced stand out performances working their way through the field in each race to secure consistently high finishes. They produced a safe performance under intense pressure from Switzerland, Austria, Croatia and Japan who were prominent among the eighteen nations chasing the elusive olympic qualification. However, Ireland does enjoy the luxury of knowing that if disaster had befallen Treacy and Shanks the fourth spot would in any event have been filled by the nippers.
Tuesday was a day of high drama when 27 boats did not finish, more than eight masts were lost, including that of O’Leary and Milne, one boat capsized and one of the top three finishers fell out of his boat seconds before the finish line, the competitors must have been hoping for more settled conditions on Wednesday. However, it was once more into the fray with huge wind shifts before the start forcing the resetting of the course three times. Racing finally got under way one and a half hours late with a black flag start and seven individual boats, including O’Connell and Cooke of Ireland, suffering disqualification for OCS.
Victory in the final race was very sweet for O’Leary and Milne as they were on fire during the competition but unfortunately a broken mast in Race 4 effectively put a stopper on their runaway performance and yet they were able to turn in a magnificent effort working with spare gear and without having had tuning up time to adjust to this new situation. It is now some seven years since O’Leary as a young sailor of 18 competed in the Laser World Championships at Crosshaven aginst Robert Scheidt of Brazil who won that event to become world Champion and in 2007 was the Star Class World Champion. In Race 6 at Miami 2008 Scheidt finished in fourth overall position. It was a disappointing event for the third Irish team of Maurice (Prof) O’Connell, RCYC and Ben Cooke of Royal St. George who were within one spot of qualifying the Qingdao spot at the 2007 Star Worlds. It was a case of so near and yet so far. They suffered two disqualifications at Key Biscayne in the current event and thus ended their hopes.
With Ireland’s place secured for Qingdao, it is now up to the OSC of the Irish Sailing Association to decide which team will represent the country. O’Leary and Milne in spite of their gear failure giving them a DNF (max points) still finished the event with 97 points to Treacy and Shanks 91 points. O’Connell and Cooke had a total of 215 points.