James McCann shines on first day

Irish sailor in the running in European Optimist Championships

Strong winds swept the Irish team into the top 10 of the European Optimist Championships on Dublin Bay yesterday as the first races in a massive 254-boat fleet for under-16 boys and girls got under way.

Royal Cork Yacht Club's James McCann scored seventh in both of the opening races to lie seventh overall in the boys fleet of 153 boats. Dublin team mate Loghlen Rickard of the National Yacht Club (NYC) scored an eighth and 10th and lies 16th.

With westerly winds touching 23-knots and a wave height of half a metre, the Royal St George YC hosted event has got off to a spectacular start with 44 nations occupying the bay’s north-west race course, providing some extra shelter for the 10-foot long junior class.

Near-gale conditions

The top Irish girl also benefitted from the near-gale conditions with Dublin Bay local


Clare Gorman

of the NYC 16th overall after scoring an impressive 12 and 7 in the girl’s 101-boat fleet.

Next best Irish is Alix Buckley of Skerries, who scored a second in the opening race, and lies 40th.

Overall, in the early stages of the competition that runs until Saturday, the boys event is led by German national champion, Jacob Ahlers from MSC Hamburg, followed by Iagor Franco of Brazil and Campbell Patton of Bermuda.

Defending champion Tytus Butowski (Poland) started his championship well with a fourth place. His second race was less successful, placing 17th to lie 24th overall.

Sweden's Josefine Akesson scored two seconds to lead the girls from Spain's Iset Segura.

In Portugal, Royal Cork's Seafra Guilfoyle leads what is arguably the hottest fleet of the ISAF Youth World Championships after two races.

The Munster sailor scored an opening race win in the Laser Radial plus a fifth in race two to lead the 53-boat fleet.

Ireland's Laser girl, Sarah Eames, from Ballyholme Yacht Club, has also got off to a strong start with a 4 and 14 scored to be ninth in her 46-boat fleet.

The event is being raced at Tavira on the Algarve and has drawn a record fleet of 370 sailors from 68 nations.

There will be some mixed results from Ireland's double-handed teams. Irish 420 champions Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove are 17th from 32. Girls 420 pairing of Elizabeth and Cara McDowell are 20th from 27.

In the 29er skiff class, Sean Donnelly and Patrick Crosbie from Dun Laoghaire are 20th in a fleet of 30. Racing continues until Saturday.

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