Lyttle expected to make waves yet again at Sailing Awards
Olympian’s Masters exploits and Dickson and Waddilove gold among season highlights
Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove’s gold medal victory in the 49er U23 Junior World Championships is among 28 achievements in the running for the Irish Sailor of the Year award on Friday at the RDS in Dublin.
Dinghy sailing exploits are expected to feature strongly on Friday night in Dublin at the presentation of the Volvo Irish Sailing Awards where 28 sailors and pairings are shortlisted for the top prize.
In another overflowing year of achievement for sailors across many disciplines, a gathering of more than 500 at the RDS Concert Hall in Ballsbridge from 6.30pm. They will salute a wide range of exploits but none more so perhaps than on inshore waters where feats in 2018 include two world championship dinghy titles, one U23, and a masters victory on home waters.
Mark Lyttle’s win in the Laser World Masters championship was undoubtedly a season highlight as was Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove’s gold medal victory in the 49er U23 Junior World Championships, where the double-handers from Howth Yacht Club and Skerries Sailing Club respectively produced a stand-out performance in the Olympic skiff.
And in another season highlight, a fine offshore best was delivered by the Defence Forces team under Commandant Barry Byrne from Co Wicklow, who took second overall in the Round Ireland Race in June and retained the Beaufort Cup a month later as part of Cork Week.
Since it began 23 years ago, the awards scheme has recognised 400 monthly award winners. The first sailor of the year was Laser dinghy exponent Mark Lyttle, a race winner at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and back again on Friday night as Masters World Champion.
In a unique gathering from across all disciplines, other sailors shortlisted include: Gary McMahon, who brought home and restored the historic ketch Ilen from the Falkland Islands; Cruising sailor Maire Breathnach, who voyaged to Greenland; RORC Caribbean winner Conor Fogerty; Star class duo Peter and Robert O’Leary; the first Irish Vendee Globe entrant, Enda O’Coineen; Tralee’s Optimist champion, Justin Lucas; Mini Transat’s Tom Dolan; UCC’s Team Racing captain, Brendan Lyden; Celtic Cup winner, Pat Kelly; and Half Ton Classic champion Dave Cullen; U21 Laser bronze medalist Liam Glynn; Round Ireland winner Niall Dowling; GP14 Worlds silver medalist Ross Kearney; Mermaid champion Darragh McCormick of Foynes; Topper world silver medalist Hugh O’Connor; Golden Globe entrant Gregor McGuckin; all-Ireland youth champions Altee Kohl and his Royal Cork counterpart Jonathan O’Shaughnessy; all-Ireland champion Peter Kennedy; Speed sailor Oisin Van Gelderen; ISORA champions Vicky Cox and Peter Dunlop; DBSC stalwart Donal O’Sullivan, regatta organiser Fintan Cairns; and classic boat exponent Darryl Hughes.
Meanwhile, one of those shortlisted pairings is already back on the water and adding to Irish success in Florida this month. After Dun Laoghaire Skiff ace Saskia Tidey medalled for Team GB and Finn Lynch made Laser racing history at the Miami World Cup last week, yesterday saw Royal Cork Yacht Club brothers Robert and Peter O’Leary take bronze on the same waters at the first Star Junior World Champion Under 30 after a six-race regatta on Biscayne Bay. It’s a buoyant start for Irish sailing that this week got a thumbs-up from Government with a 20 per cent increase in core funding to €385,000.