Harry Durcan tops Irish challenge at NYC

Ireland’s Annalise Murphy tops the billing in the Laser Radial in Cork

Last weekend saw the annual mass gathering of the largest dinghy class in Ireland when the Jelly Bean Factory Optimist Irish Championship at the National Yacht Club attracted almost 200 entries from seven countries.

Harry Durcan from the Royal Cork Yacht Club topped the Irish championship in the Senior fleet of 59 boats with his fourth overall that included first, second and third places in the 10 race series that was won by Milo Gill-Taylor from Spinnaker Sailing Club in Hampshire.

Meanwhile, Clare Gorman of the NYC emerged as Irish Champion in the Junior Fleet and Senan O'Shea of the neighbouring Royal Irish YC won the regatta fleet. While Oppy sailors were working their magic on Dublin Bay, slightly further north at Howth, the Under 25 team fielded by the host club for next week's BMW J24 World Championship were peaking nicely in their campaign to be the top Irish boat.

Managed by Fergus O'Kelly, the crew including Cillian Dickson, Joseph Murphy, Gordon Stirling, Harry O'Reilly and Ross Darmody previously won the class Eastern championship and emerged national champions last weekend in sixth place behind some of the stronger international visitors for the worlds. That line-up includes defending title-holder Mauricio Santa Cruz from Rio de Janeiro, a four times winner of the world title and tipped for his fifth off Ireland's Eye next week.


Brazilians will remain to the fore the week after when five times Olympic medallist Robert Scheidt competes in the Laser European Championships at the National Yacht Club. The 40-year old has returned to the famous single-hander having campaigned in the double-handed Star keelboat while the 2013 championship will be his second regatta in Ireland in the Laser after visiting Crosshaven for the world championship that was hosted there in 2001.

By way of warm-up for the Europeans, a fleet of 170 Lasers has gathered at the Royal Cork Yacht Club this week for the four day Irish championships that was to have started yesterday but was abandoned due to lack of breeze.

Ireland’s Annalise Murphy tops the billing in the Laser Radial rig while up and coming Irish sailors Robbie Gilmour and Finn Lynch will also be sailing in her class which features a slightly smaller rig than the standard men’s class.

Meanwhile, on Sunday at Kinsale, the practice race for the Cork County Council IFDS World Championships takes place featuring many of the London 2012 paralympic sailors including the only female athlete from the sailing regatta. Britain's Helena Lucas won gold in the 2.4 metre single-handed keelboat and is joined next week by Germany's Heiko Kroeger who took silver.

David Branigan

David Branigan

David Branigan is a contributor on sailing to The Irish Times