Eighteen Irish Optimist Sailors are about to set sail to two major regattas in Europe in the next fortnight.
Half the squad comes from the Royal Cork Yacht Club which is a reflection on the commitment and the abilities of the sailors, the success of our dinghy sail training programme and the support the sailors have received from their coaches – Fernando Gwozdz, Stefano Cherin and George Kennefick.
An extensive trials process, comprising 16 races over two weekends in May in Cork and Athlone, was used to select the teams for the International Optimist European Championships in Slovenia and for the French National Championships. Seven sailors were selected for the Europeans and 11 for the French Nationals that are to be held in Brittany.
Patrick Crosbie, Seafra Guilfoyle, John Durcan, Amy Harrington (all Royal Cork), Colm O’Regan (Kinsale), Fiona Daly (Tralee) and Tara Flood (Howth) were chosen to represent Ireland at the Europeans. The French Nationals team is made up of Peter McCann, Brendan Lyden, Cian Byrne, Philip Brownlow, Katherine Geoghegan (all Royal Cork), Aodh Kennedy, Conor Murphy, Cliodhna O’Regan, Amy Clarke (all Kinsale), Xander Morrisson (Howth) and Tadgh Donnelly (National YC).
The eighteen sailors have benefited from extensive squad training sessions run by head coach Thomas Chaix under the auspices of the Irish Sailing Association. Thomas is the head coach for both regattas and will be assisted at the Europeans by James O’Callaghan (Performance Director – ISA) and by Suzanne Burke at the French Nationals.
The Optimist Class is key to future Irish Olympic aspirations in sailing. 85% of the skippers of medal-winning Olympic boats at the recent Olympics in China were former Optimist sailors.
The Admiral, Mike McCarthy, was on hand to wish the club representatives well and present them with a memento to mark their achievements to date.