Irish in superb form in Britain and beyond


SAILING: In a busy week for domestic sailing, Irish sailors have also been in action around the world with notable success. In a 20-boat fleet, Dublin-based 1720 sailor and Olympic coach Maurice "Prof" O'Connell won the Melges 24 UK National Championships sailing as tactician on Quentin Strauss' Gill at the Royal Torquay Yacht Club.

The crew counted no less than five firsts in the high-quality fleet that included second overall Jamie Lea and Nigel Young from the North Sails UK team and Rob Smith, sailing The New Barbarians, in third.

"Going into the final day of racing we were lying a close third," O'Connell said. "We thought that the best we could do was shoot for second overall. However it went down to the wire."

O'Connell is planning to join the Gill team for the Melges 24 World Championships in Germany next month and will compete in this weekend's Irish 1720 Championship is Howth.

In Wales, Noel Butler and Stephen Campion took second overall in the Laser 2 UK National Championships in a tight 37-boat fleet that included reigning European Champions Nigel Skudder and Keith Hills, whom the Irish pair beat into third place.

Kiel Week, the world's largest regatta is well underway, with good news from the opening day for top Irish sailors. In the Star class, Mark Mansfield and Killian Collins were lying third after day one while Tom Fitzpatrick and Fraser Brown, fresh from their world championships in Hawaii, are are also third in the 49er. Sydney 2000 Olympian David Burrows has returned to Finn class campaigning on a positive footing and was 10th overall after the opening day.

Meanwhile, one of the largest Irish teams ever to have been sent to an international regatta will be in action at the ISAF World Sailing Games which start this weekend. Olympic squad members Gerbil Owens and Ross Killian in the 470 are reported to be Ireland's best hope of a medal.

Irish Squad for ISAF World Games (Marseille, June 29th to July 11th); Laser: Matt McGovern, Tim Goodbody. Laser Radial: Ciara Peelo, Sue Monson. Men's 470: Marty Maloney, David McHugh; Gerbil Owens, Ross Killian. Hobie Cat 16: Andrew Gallagher, Mark Donegan, Jarod Dolan, Jeff Condell. Bic Techno Formula: Danny Mulryan, Maurice Owens. Keelboat (male) J80: David Rose, Nelson Moore, Martin Darrer, Ross Deasy, John Simms, Alan Morrison, Colin Coffey, Dermot Walsh. Keelboat (female) J22: Amy Morris, Melanie Morris, Amanda Wallace, Karena Knaggs, Susy Mitton, Sheena McDonald, Emma McDonald, Sana Fowler.