Baltimore's O'Leary takes senior title for the second time
SAILING:WEST CORK brought the main national sailing season to a close yesterday on Lough Derg when Baltimore sailors dominated the ISA All-Ireland Sailing Championship. Olympian Peter O’Leary won the senior title, adding his name to the historic silver salver for a second time.
Competing with his brother Robert and Robbie English, the trio marked the seventh consecutive year of Cork domination of this event, mostly by an O’Leary.
Club-mate Fionn Lynch who won the junior title two weeks ago provided a real threat to his older rivals for the championship as the 17-year-old who attends Schull Community College placed second to O’Leary.
But for all the neatness of the result, the weekend long event could hardly have been less predictable.
A forecast of light winds turning to fresh conditions turned out to be light winds followed by more light winds as Lough Derg delivered a glasslike start to yesterday’s final along with fog that delayed proceedings.
Saturday’s racing had its schedule badly disrupted by the light airs so that only one flight of eight boats were able to sail their three races.
In a speedy re-arrangement of the programme, the repechage round that would have allowed two sailors back into the final via a back-door was dropped yesterday morning as the original second flight of eight was sailed instead.
But with barely a couple of knots of air moving, near drifting conditions had a few with furrowed brows ashore, concerned that the “champion of champions” title might be decided a simple, single-race final that had echoes of previous championships decided in similar conditions a few years ago.
But the weather gods smiled, a bit and by the afternoon there was a fairly steady eight knots blowing across the course where the original line-up of 24 sailors were whittled down to the top four from each of the two flights.
The line-up for the All-Irelands comprises class national champions or a nominee of similar calibre plus a number of wild-card entries that are typically Olympic level sailors.
For the past six years, the event has been held in J80 sportsboats as a compromise between dinghy classes and larger keelboats with each champion sailor permitted to bring two selected crew for the event.
The defending champion plus junior champion are included in the line-up and it was Lyden who had the best score of the eight finalists that started yesterday, albeit in a closely packed group.
But it was O’Leary that displayed the edge by winning the first two races of the final round. Behind him, Ballyholme’s Ryan Seaton, another veteran of the London 2012 Games from the 49er skiff class had three good races from the second flight but his form plummeted in the final when he had a sixth then two seventh places.
By the final race late afternoon yesterday, O’Leary already had a firm grip on the trophy and actually didn’t need to sail the final race but raced it hard anyway.