Irish sailors battling hard at Olympic trials in Rio

Howth teenager Aoife Hopkins has Radial qualifier Annalise Murphy in her sights

 

National Yacht Club (NYC) sailors from Dun Laoghaire lead both the men’s and women’s Irish Olympic Laser trials in Rio as the first of three races pass the half-way point this morning.

The Copa Brasil De Vela regatta began on Tuesday with five Irish sailors engaged in a high-stakes battle for Olympic selection. Howth teenager Aoife Hopkins has Radial qualifier Annalise Murphy in her sights on Guanabara Bay, while Fionn Lyden and Finn Lynch are vying to unseat Belfast’s James Espey from the Laser berth.

A third-place finish in race three put Murphy within six points of Lilja Xu, China’s London 2012 gold medallist, in 10th place. Hopkins is placed 24th after four races. The 10-race series continues until Saturday. Belgium’s Evi Van Acker continues her overall lead of a 44-boat women’s fleet.

In the men’s division, the NYC’s Lynch is 32nd and best of three Irish in the 48-boat fleet. Lyden is 40th and Espey, Ireland’s London 2012 representative, is 44th after four races.

Transatlantic

The six-month trial, totalling 30 or more races, reconvenes after Christmas with more transatlantic competition at the ISAF World Cup Miami, Florida.

Meanwhile, The Royal Alfred Yacht Club (RAYC) and Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) are to merge as the Dún Laoghaire waterfront considers the next step for yacht racing on the bay.

The link-up will modify the racing programmes of over 3,000 sailors and solve fixture clashes in the country’s most popular race area.

The two clubs – neither of which has a clubhouse – have agreed to sit down and discuss the best way forward given the crowded calendar, reduced entries and duplication of effort that is impacting on both the RAYC and DBSC.

Nostalgia, it seems, may present one of only a few obstacles to closer co-operation and the much-needed rationalisation of the Dun Laoghaire sailing scene. A meeting of the two Victorian clubs is expected in January.

The DBSC has confirmed it will add a mixed sportsboat class to its extensive line-up for the 2016 season.

The sportsboats will join 20 other classes racing under the club’s burgee.

Windward

The decision follows a meeting of the Bay’s sportsboat interests earlier this month. The class will race every Saturday on primarily windward leeward courses, with committee boat starts.

Also racing on this course will be the SB20, Flying Fifteen and Dragon fleets.

Racing will also be provided for the new class on DBSC’s midweek courses on Thursday and Tuesday evenings.

The mixed sportsboat class will consist of 1720s, J80s, J70s, Melges 24, Bachman 21s and similar such craft.

The Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) has published a notice of race for its 2016 National Championships to be staged at Howth Yacht Club.

The Dublin club, under new commodore Berchmans Gannon, will run eight national championship titles plus a Corinthian Cup under progressive ECHO and IRC from June 10th to 12th.

Over 100 boats are expected to contest the event.

Having started a day late and trailed the fleet by 300 miles, debut IMOCA 60 skipper Enda O’Coineen shot up the Masters Transat leaderboard overnight yesterday and is now on course to reach Port la Foret, France, as soon as Sunday.

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