With the Olympic games just 2 weeks away in Rio, all eyes are for our senior sporting heroes and sailing is no exception. However it is elsewhere that some little bit of history was written with Royal Cork 12 year old Justin Lucas putting Ireland at the forefront French papers at the French Summer Cup in Brittany, one of the largest Optimist dinghy events of the summer with a staggering four hundred and fifty participants from thirteen different countries.
Justin’s winter hard work ashore working on his tactical knowledge in front of the whiteboard, developing his stamina and fitness. Cold days afloat perfecting his techniques off Brandon bay in Kerry or his local Crosshaven as part of the Royal Cork strong club squad were not always fun but it led to Justin being one of the only three under 12 sailors qualifying for one of the three national squads representing Ireland at a major summer event. With club mate Killian O’Regan (also from Carrigaline), he traveled to France for the summer cup.
The main event was a series of eight races (four qualifying and four finals for the best sixty sailors). The best one hundred and eighty sailors battled for the title, eventually won by the reigning Swiss world champion. Justin managed to climb the ranks each day to end his challenge with a race win after a superb match racing style battle with the 15 year old Swiss champion earning him 5th overall, the best result ever achieved by an Irish junior at this event. Killian O’Regan was second Irish having also qualified in the Gold finals.
The French Summer Cup has also the particularity of running what they call “the long range race”, a special race bringing the sailors around cardinal marks, hugging beaches for the delight of shore supporters, play with tidal gates and bringing unusual strategies for such small dinghies. Another particularity of the race is that all the fleets racing separately at the main event start together producing a giant startline and an incredible show on the chosen race track. Justin was off a good start in the middle of the line allowing him to maximise every wind shifts of the first leg of the course allowing him to round the initial mark right in front of the club with a narrow lead. He managed to gradually extend his lead winning the race by two minutes. To this day, no Irish sailor had managed to climb the podium of this race making his performance the better.
With two major event left to sail this summer, no doubt the promises shown in July will convert into more success in August. His first aim will be the UK open nationals in Scotland next week. He will be joined by club mates Michael Crosbie freshly returned from the Europeans in Italy, Eoin Horgan, Patrick Bruen, Richard McSweaney and Jonathan O’Shaugnessy and a few other sailors from Dublin as part of the national U12 squad.