Great weekend on domestic dinghy and keelboat front

Irish sailing administration may be in a state of flux but last weekend’s domestic dinghy and keelboat scene looked a picture of rude health, as five classes competed at five different venues in blustery conditions for the first regional championships of the season.

It was a week too when Irish sailing mourned the tragic loss of leading small boat exponent Graham Elmes (39). The popular Dún Laoghaire helmsman was remembered fondly by two of the fleets he sailed in.

The GP14 fleet held a minute's silence at Mullingar Sailing Club to remember "Elmo", while the SB20s saluted him with applause at its Dún Laoghaire prize giving. GP14 Bucking the modest turnout trends, a 36-boat GP14 Leinster championship fleet was won by John and Donal McGuinness on Lough Owel.

The build up for August's world championships at East Down YC is underway, with the Donegal brothers winning with a high 15.75 tally.


Dinghy Supplies sportsboat trio Shane Murphy, Darragh Sheridan and John Phelan from Howth YC (HYC) took the honours in the 20-boat SB20's Easterns. Second were brothers Aidan and Maurice O'Connell sailing with Johnny Hogg.

Three wins on day two of the Ulster Fireball championships saw Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella of the Royal St George Yacht Club (RStGYC) leapfrog to victory on Belfast lough.

The Dún Laoghaire pair, who suffered gear failure (a broken kicking strap) on the first day, produced a stunning comeback in the 14-boat fleet at Ballyholme to overhaul Noel Butler and Stephen Oram.

John Lavery (with your correspondent) returned to the Irish Flying Fifteen class with a southern championship victory at Dundalk SC . Tiebreak In a modest 13-boat turnout there was a different winner of each of the four races in conditions ranging from two to 20 knots. Second and third overall were decided on a tiebreak, with Strangford's Andrew McCreery and Colin Dougan runner-up from clubmates Roger Chamberlain and Hamo Baker.

Royal Cork's Harry Durcan was an emphatic winner of the Optimist Class Connaught Championships at Galway Bay SC. After five races sailed in the 39-boat fleet, the 15-year-old included three race wins to be 13-points ahead.

Meanwhile at East Antrim BC, Durcan’s twin, Johnny, was winning the Laser 4.7 crown at the Ulster Championships.

Finn Lynch added the Ulster title to his Munster win a fortnight ago in the standard Laser division. The 17-year-old had a clean sweep of the 15-boat fleet. Ireland's ISAF youth world's representative Séafra Guilfoyle won the radial division.

Tomorrow, Dublin Bay keelboat classes will trial new race courses at the Royal Irish Yacht Club (RIYC) regatta. The RIYC regatta, the first of the summer, also starts the 10-race Royal Alfred Superleague.

David O'Brien

David O'Brien

David O'Brien, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a former world Fireball sailing champion and represented Ireland in the Star keelboat at the 2000 Olympics