Sailing: Lyttle leads Irish hopes in Laser Master World Championships

Former Olympian won the UK Masters in June in convincing fashion with six wins in eight races

After securing third overall at the Laser National Championships a fortnight ago on Lough Derg, Dubliner Mark Lyttle (55) returns to home waters to lead Irish hopes in this morning's Laser Master World Championships.

The solo helmsman, who won the UK Masters in June in some style, with six firsts in eight races, was Ireland’s first representative in the newly created Laser class at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and his performance then included a race win. Twenty-two years later, the now UK-based businessman, is back in Dublin Bay seeking his first Laser world title.

Ireland’s biggest fleet championships this season gets underway today with registration for the 301 entries at the Dun Laoghaire Harbour-based regatta. The massive event with 15 Irish sailors is co-hosted by the Royal St George and National Yacht Clubs and has attracted entries from 25 countries.

Senior racing is provided for ages 35 years upwards, is open to male and female, in both Radial and Full rig divisions and first races are on Sunday.


In a further boost for domestic hopes, Lyttle, who has just turned 55, now qualifies for next week’s ‘Grand Master’ division.

There will be no ICRA representation at this year’s All-Ireland Sailing Championships in Lough Ree next month, organisers Irish Sailing (IS) have confirmed. The cruiser racing body fills typically four of 16 of the championship places but after the cancellation of the cruiser nationals in Galway Bay last month, IS instead accepted ICRA nominations based on previous year’s results, where the largest ICRA class was ICRA 4 with 12 boats entered.

"This, however, did not fall within the criteria for the event. Hence they did not receive an invite," IS CEO Harry Hermon, told the Irish Times.

A line-up of 16 sailors has been announced though with defending champion Fionn Lyden up against some of the country's top sailing talent with bronze medalist in the Laser U21 World Championships, Liam Glynn, one of six Northern Ireland helmsmen to be nominated.

Clear lead

Six keelboat sailors, nine dinghy sailors and one multihull sailor make up this year’s invitation list for the event that will be sailed in SB20 Sportsboats on October 5th.

Barring a final offshore race disaster this Saturday, defending ISORA champions Peter Dunlop and Vicky Cox in the J109 Mojito have a clear lead of 27.1 points over the Royal St George's J122 Aurelia skippered by Chris Power-Smith. A total of 15 starters are expected for the Pwllheli to Dun Laoghaire race where the season-long outcome for the Wolfs Head Trophy will be settled.

A fleet of 50 Cork Harbour cruiser-racers is expected on the line for Cove Sailing Club’s Cobh to Blackrock end of season race this Saturday.

Paul Tingle's X34 'Alpaca' from Royal Cork Yacht Club is defending the Moonduster Trophy under the IRC rating rule but can expect competition from tricked-up half tonners Cortegada and Miss Whiplash.

National Yacht Club youth Rian Geraghty-McDonnell who was as high as tenth, finally placed 16th overall at this week's Optimist World Championships at Limassol in Cyprus. Team-mate James Dwyer-Matthews of Kinsale Yacht Club finished 19th out of the 66-boat Gold fleet.

After two stages of the French solo race – La Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro – County Mayo’s Joan Mulloy is lying 27th and Meath sailor Tom Dolan is 31st from 36 following his retirement in leg one. Leg Three of this four-leg series starts on 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