Ewan MacMahon rewarded by Howth YC for winning world silver

Cork Harbour’s Alex Barry says ‘friendship’ is key to keeping Ireland’s youth dinghy classes alive

Ewan MacMahon was awarded Howth Yacht Club’s Silver Fox Trophy for his silver medal performance at the Laser Radial Youth World Championships. Photograph: Gareth Craig.

Ewan MacMahon was awarded Howth Yacht Club’s Silver Fox Trophy for his silver medal performance at the Laser Radial Youth World Championships. Photograph: Gareth Craig.

 

Howth Yacht Club saluted its top performer Ewan MacMahon this week when it awarded the youth helmsman the club’s Silver Fox trophy for his silver medal win at the 2016 Laser Radial Youth World championships.

It was just reward for the 17-year-old who added world silver at Dún Laoghaire to 2015 European silver in a stand-out season for the Dubliner that also saw him fly to Rio as Annalise Murphy’s training partner prior to Ireland’s most successful Olympic Games in 30 years.

In Australia this week, MacMahon’s team-mate Johnny Durcan is competing at the Radial youth national championships in Adelaide. The Royal Cork sailor also took in the youth worlds, and Australian national championships in a month of competition down under.

Ballyholme Yacht Club will host the next generation of youth sailors when it stages the Irish Sailing Association’s (ISA) Pathway National Championships in April, the first time the event has sailed in Northern Ireland.

The dinghy championships will form part of the ISA selection trials for the 2017 World Sailing Youth Worlds team and ISA National Squads.

Competitors in the 420, Laser Radial and Laser 4.7 classes must be under 19 and entries in the Topper and Topper 4.2 under 16.

The championships will also incorporate the first leg of the Irish Optimist dinghy trials.

Broadened out

Elsewhere, there is a push-on to see the dinghy scene broadened out to include more than ISA “pathway” classes. To this end, Cork Harbour’s Alex Barry says “friendship” is key to keeping Ireland’s youth dinghy sailing classes alive.

While clubs and associations maybe doing a good job with junior classes since the ISA’s shake-up, and the high-performance team has celebrated Olympic success, there remains “a void”, says Barry, for over-16s “who just want to have a bit of fun, go to a few events camping, and be with their friends”.

Barry, who won this year’s All-Ireland Sailing Championships, points to the traditional route into sailing – and in particular the transition to bigger boats and team racing at university age, after starting in Optimists and skilling up in Lasers or Toppers – as the point where many young sailors drop out, prohibited by the significant investment, among other factors.

“My goal is to get the parents to reinvest that €4,000 to €5,000 from [the sale of a Laser or Topper] into an RS200, which can keep people sailing through that financially tough period,’ says the RS champion.

Barry has organised RS200 open days last weekend with another weekend to follow on January 21st/22nd.

Co Kerry saw its inaugural winter dinghy training take place this week with international coaches hosting a Tralee Bay Maritime Centre Clinic for over 50 young sailors in three different classes.

Lough Ree Yacht Club in Co Westmeath will host four weekend Mirror dinghy training sessions to April in the build-up to the class world championships in Cornwall.

Wicklow Sailing Club are Ireland’s New Mitsubishi Motors Club of the Year. The east coast club were awarded the prize for its superb staging of June’s Volvo Round Ireland Race which saw a record entry and both monohull and outright record times fall.

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