Irish squad for Optimist European championships named

Cork’s Harry Durcan to focus instead on bid for the world Optimist title in Argentina

The Irish Optimist team for this season's home waters dinghy highlight has been selected after a trials series ended in Dún Laoghaire last weekend. Fourteen young sailors ranging in ages from 12 to 15 and drawn from ten different Irish yacht clubs will represent Ireland at the Optimist European championships to be held on Dublin Bay in July.

Skerries Sailing Club sailor Peter Fagan (14) was the overall winner of the 14-race trials that reached a dramatic conclusion in blustery conditions at the Royal St George YC. Over half of the 62-boat fleet did not complete the final race as gusts of over 30-knots hit the fleet.

The trials were held on the same course area as the European championships will be staged in two months’ time. Already it’s shaping up to be a bumper affair with organisers claiming a record entry – 43 countries have entered teams totalling 245 competitors.

But at least one school boy selected for Ireland last weekend will not be afloat in Dún Laoghaire in July. Cork's Harry Durcan, who finished third in the trials, is to focus instead on a bid for the world Optimist title in Argentina in October.


The lone run sees the 14-year-old Royal Cork and Baltimore helmsman competing at a string of top international events before heading to San Isidro, Argentina in October. Durcan has already completed in two world championships, in Lake Garda in 2013 and the Dominican Republic in 2012.

With a month to go, the Irish Cruiser Racer Association (ICRA) is to implement an amendment to its professional sailor rule for its Teng Tools sponsored national championships on Dublin Bay following ambiguity over the regulation at its 2013 championships in Fenit, County Kerry.

Break records
With 92 entries and up to 750 crews already slated, the Royal Irish hosted three day regatta looks set to break all records for the biggest cruiser-racer event of the season.

ICRA is to maintain its position of only one professional per boat in divisions zero and one but will attempt to distinguish between those professionals taking part in racing as a “pastime” rather than as part of their “business”.

Abroad, Annalise Murphy has begun the defence of her Italian Olympic week crown on Lake Garda but a lowly 33 scored in the first round on Wednesday gave her 15th from 39 on day one. Ireland’s silver medal winners at the ISAF world cup in Hyeres last month,Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern, are 11th from 23 in the 49er class.

Teams from Howth Yacht Club Royal St George YC are contesting this morning’s British Open Team Racing Championships at West Kirby’s marine lake for the 65th Wilson Trophy competition.

At Palma Vela regatta, held in Mallorca last week, the National Yacht Club’s Alan Green sailing with Michael Clough was the winner of the Flying Fifteen division.

IRISH OPTIMIST EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS TEAM: Sarah Cudmore (RCYC), Dara Donnelly (NYC), Gemma McDowell (MYC), Grace O'Beirne (RStGYC), Clare Gorman (NYC), Harry Bell (RNIYC), Alex Buckley (SSC), Michael Carroll (KYC), Loghlen Rickard (NYC), James McCann (RCYC), Alex O'Grady (HYC), Daniel Hopkins (HYC), Jamie McMahon (HYC) and Peter Fagan (SSC).

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