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Successful Raiding Party for Optimist Ulsters

Royal Cork sailors were to the fore again at the Optimist Ulster Championships at the weekend in Ballyholme Yacht Club. Both Seafra Guilfoyle (Senior) and Peter McCann (Junior) won their second consecutive provincial championship while Jil McGinley was first in the Junior Silver fleet. Full results are available here.

Racing was postponed ashore on Saturday morning waiting for the wind to fill in. When the fleet did launch, racing was further delayed for the breeze to settle down. When it steadied, it built all afternoon so that racing was held in a 10 – 20 knot southerly which was well above the forecast of less than 10 knots.

First away was the junior division in a fairly light breeze. Soon after the start a left hand shift, with a building breeze, made those that started at the committee boat look a bit sad. Peter McCann was one of those but managed to find a lane to get across to the new wind to make it up to third at the top mark behind Sean Gambier Ross (KYC) and Sandy Aplin (RStGYC). He finally managed to pass them on the second beat to take his first bullet of the regatta.

There was a tussle in the senior division for the pin end as the race officer had not reset his line. Seafra Guilfoyle had the first of many consistently good starts near the pin (avoiding going for the brilliant but always at the right end and in clean air). Very close racing ensued between the top 5 or 6 which was to set the tone for the rest of the regatta. Seafra won the race from Colm O’Regan (KYC) and Alexander Rumball (RStGYC).

The wind increased significantly in the second race. In the junior division Peter McCann led from start to finish with Cian Byrne (RCYC) beginning to show form coming through to take second with Cliodhna O’Regan (KYC) third. The senior division was won by Alexander Rumball followed closely by Patrick Crosbie (RCYC) who showed fantastic speed up the second beat to almost pip Alexander to the weather mark but could not pass him on the subsequent legs. Seafra had a solid third place.

There was a solid 20 knot breeze in the last race and after a fairly long day with significant delays due to no wind. Some of the sailors found that starting a race after 4.40pm having been ready to go at 8.30am was more than they could handle. There were many retirees in both the junior and senior divisions. However, this is championship sailing and the conditions were well within the class parameters. Great racing ensued for those that could handle the breeze. In the junior division Cian Byrne had a fine win from Peter McCann with Cliodhna O’Regan 3rd. Colm O’Regan won the senior race with Seafra Guilfoyle 2nd and Alexander Rumball 3rd.

Oddly enough, there wasn’t much sign of the sailors late that night and no protests were heard when bed was suggested!

Sunday morning dawned and enthusiastic sailors were greeted by an unenthusiastic breeze and a shore postponement was the order of the day. When the fleet did launch there were further delays and an abandonment of a started race before the junior division got away. Just after the start the wind dropped from about 10 knots to less than 5 and rig adjustments were the order of the day. Peter McCann led at the first mark but was passed by Harry Whittaker (RCYC) on the run. However, Peter just pipped Harry in the closest of finishes with Sean Donnelly (NYC) in 3rd.

The senior fleet did not manage to get a start and a torrential downpour and another two major shifts in wind direction forced the race officer to abandon racing for the day.

In the senior division, the results stood as they had been overnight with Seafra Guilfoyle the winner by a point from Colm O’Regan, Alexander Rumball, Patrick Crosbie and Aodh Kennedy (KYC). The silver fleet was won by William Potterton (WHSC) from Lizzy McDowell (WHSC), Sean Anglim (MYC), Sam McGinley (RCYC) and Callum Maher (SDC). In two of the races Sam was right up with the leaders and this should give him great encouragement for the future.

The Junior Division was won by Peter McCann from Cian Byrne, Sean Gambier-Ross, Cliodhna O’Regan and Sophie Browne (RCYC/TBSC).  The silver fleet was won by Jil McGinley (RCYC) who showed great determination in a big breeze on Saturday evening. Conor O’Beirne (RStGYC) was second from Sorcha Donnelly (BYC/SSC), Cliodhna Ni Shuilleabhain (KYC) and Niamh Henry (RStGYC).

IODAI run a “Regatta Fleet” at all their major championships for sailors who are new to the class and want to have some coaching and gain racing experience on a shorter course before graduating to the main fleets. This was won by Alexander Gillet (RStGYC) with Rebecca O’Shaughnessy (RCYC) 2nd and Anna Coomey (SSC) third.

A number of other Royal Cork sailors made the long trip to the North (though it must be said that it is much shorter than it used to be with the improved roads). All enjoyed the experience and many made big improvements in the difficult conditions. The other travellers (and their overall results) were:

Senior Gold – Philip Brownlow 11th, Sarah Kelly 14th

Senior Silver – Rory Martin 36th

Junior Gold – Harry Whittaker 8th, Daire Cournane 12th

Junior Silver – Jamie Tingle 22nd, Anna Kelly 27th, Arran Walsh 29th, Matthew Kehoe 31st, Ronan Cournane 43rd , Oliver Nyhan 52nd

Many thanks to Ballyholme Yacht Club who provided a great welcome and excellent facilities to all who made the journey.

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