Sailing: fortunes of Dublin’s Laser dinghy fleet are on the rise

Over 40 entries expected for the Master National Championships at the Royal St George Yacht Club on May 19th

The fortunes of Dublin’s Laser dinghy fleet are on the rise as the prospect of international competition on home waters breathes new life into the single-hander class.

September’s Laser Master World Championships at Dún Laoghaire is providing a welcome fillip on the capital’s waters, with Dublin Bay Sailing Club reporting a buoyant fleet of 30 as the town prepares for the staging of the 450-boat championships by the Royal St George Yacht Club from September 7th-15th.

Yet the local fleet’s increase has not arrived overnight, and changes as far back as 2015 have been key to its resurgence. Before then the “class identity got lost within a mixed handicap class, and the Olympic class was without its own start”, according to Radial rig sailor Sean Craig.

This season’s rise could represent a three-fold leap in numbers, occurring at a time when dinghy fortunes in general are flagging on the bay. Now the growing fleet is looking forward to a bumper season, with dedicated starts also in each of the Dún Laoghaire Club’s regattas. “Momentum has also been kept with a training programme for all levels of sailors, helping to create a really friendly and inclusive Laser community,” adds Craig.

Last weekend there was a further indication of this at the Ulster Laser Championships on Belfast Lough when 14 travelling Dublin Bay Sailing Club sailors posted prominent results, including first lady master Shirley Gilmore and Craig taking second master in the Radial. Dublin Bay Sailing Club class captain Ross O'Leary was second master.

Add spice

Next up is the Master National Championships at the Royal St George Yacht Club on May 19th, with over 40 entries expected, including some from the UK, Sweden and the USA. This add spice to a regatta that will be held on the same race track as the Worlds.

The celebrations for Royal Cork Yacht Club's 300th anniversary – making it the oldest yacht club in the world – got an unexpected boost in San Francisco this week when the Cork club was announced as host of the International Council of Yacht Clubs World Forum in 2019. Royal Cork Yacht Club's vice-admiral Colin Morehead, who was at the St Francis Yacht Club briefing, will lead Crosshaven's tricentenary jubilee in 2020.

Waterford Harbour yacht Fools Gold, skippered by Rob McConnell, will be the only Irish boat to contest the first IRC European Championship ever to be held on the Solent in mid-June.

The Irish boat will be hoping for a repeat of the success of Royal Cork's Paul Gibbons, when the Cork Harbour sailor had a class win at the inaugural event, staged as part of Cork Week in 2016. McConnell relaunched the race-winning A35 late last month in Dunmore East after an extensive refit that includes a refaired keel.

In Youghal, marina pontoons are currently being installed in the east Cork town. The harbour works mark the fruition of long-standing community efforts to build a marina for the town – something it is hoped will "bring a welcome boost to our capability as a destination for marine tourism", say town activists.

Winners

Royal Irish Yacht Club SB20 Bád Kilcullen was the winner of the first Sportsboat Championships of 2018 at Greystones Sailing Club last weekend. Stefan Hyde, John Malone and Jerry Dowling were declared winners after a tie on points with Strangford Lough's Peter Kennedy, Stevie Kane and Hammy Baker in a 16-boat fleet.

The Irish 420 team has been announced for the 2018 Junior European Championships. The team will have representatives from six clubs, and comprises the following crews: Nicola and Fiona Ferguson, National Yacht Club; Gemma McDowell and Emma Gallagher, Malahide Yacht Club; Grace O'Beirne and Kathy Kelly, Royal St George Yacht Club; Micheal O'Suilleabhain and Michael Carroll, Kinsale Yacht Club; Morgan Lyttle and Patrick Whyte, Royal St George Yacht Club/Lough Ree Yacht Club; Daniel Thompson and Dan Quaid, Wexford Harbour Boat and Tennis Club.

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

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