Irish Optimist National Championships 2005. 17th - 20th August
One-Two for Howth Sailors at the IODAI Optimist Nationals
Author: Kevin Darmody Posted on: 22/8/05 Print Version

The 2005 Optimist National Champion is 13 year old Diana Kissane (HYC/ SDC).
In a close duel to the last beat of the last race, Diana claimed a narrow victory ahead of close friend & rival, Tim O'Laoire (HYC/ BSC).

Scott Flanigan (HYC/ MYC) won the Silver Fleet.

Due to a registration error, Philip Bendon (GHYC) was declared the winner due to an excellent performance where he finished 19th overall. However, as a newcomer to the IODAI Championship he had not previously qualified beyond the Bronze fleet and he is therefore the winner of that fleet instead.

Scott will receive his Silver Fleet winner's trophy at the End of Season event in the Royal St. George Yacht Club on 30 October.

Howth Yacht Club were the winner of the Club Team Trophy with Diana, Tim and Andrew Tyrrell as the constituent top three sailors from any club.

Diana being helped to a victory swim by Rob Lehane (KYC), Katie White (HYC) and William Murray (RCYC)

The Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club at Cultra, Co.Down, hosted the event. The main fleet (Gold, Silver and Bronze combined) was 128 strong and each race was comprised of two flights.

Special thanks must go to the fine Ulster efficiency of Mike Vaughan and his extensive team of volunteers. They could not have done more to make everyone feel welcome and satisfied by the choice of venue for 2005 Nationals.

There was a strong contingent of GBR sailors who were part of a 25 boat team. Aaron Smith of Papercourt Sailing Club with 12 points conclusively won the Open Championship overall.

HYC had a strong representation of nearly 20 members competing.

PRO, Harry Gallagher proved a popular and fair Race Officer in the challenging sailing conditions over the four days of the championship. He wisely took the opportunity of running four races on Wednesday as the lack of wind on Thursday meant that racing was abandoned for the day. At this point, Tim was leading Irish boat by just a point. Friday allowed him to run three races and a final two on Saturday. A tense wait for wind on Saturday made everyone wonder if the PRO could run more than one race. This was crucial because the second discard kicked in if nine races were held and Diana was carrying a DNF from race 7 when the wind had died before the end resulting in many disappointed sailors.

It is a true example of club spirit, sportsmanship and long-term friendship that Diana and Tim should have been rooting for each other throughout the championship. Before race 8 they practiced split tacks to conclude the best side of the beat and in that race Tim came in first with Diana second. Tim knew that without race 9, he would be the Irish champion but he declared that he hoped another race would be held for the sake of fairness. It was this last race that handed the championship to Diana by 2 points.

Diana (post swim) and Tim
packing up after the last race

HYC can be proud of all of its Junior sailors who represented Howth at Cultra. Many young sailors declared their arrival with significant results. Under 12 team member, Andrew Tyrrell (HYC) showed that practice pays off by finishing 11th Irish boat in the Gold fleet. Alan Ruigrok (HYC/RSC/SSC) was in serious contention after day 1 having put in a 2nd and a 3rd but day 3 went horrible with an OCS and a DNF so that he finished the Nationals well below his usual form. For Katie White, Suzanne Burke, Alyson Rumball, Ross Darmody and Andrew Ryan, this regatta was their final fling in the Oppy as they age out at 15 before the end of this year.

In Suzanne's case, it was the end of a 17-year dynasty on the Oppy circuit for Caroline & Kevin. Siblings, Eamonn, Kerrie and Gillian passed through the Optimist class ahead of Suzanne. Both Suzanne and Gillian represented Ireland at the Europeans in their respective final year in the class.

As the leading contender after day 1, Conor Murphy (HYC/MYC) was hoping to win the Bronze fleet but was unlucky in his quest and ended up third. Under 12 team member, Alexander Rumball (HYC, RSGYC/ RIYC) was ever cheerful throughout the regatta and was 69th overall. Ali Dix (HYC) showed excellent boat-speed and put in a couple of top twenty results. Padraig Finnegan (HYC/MSC) sailed consistently throughout the regatta. Oliver Keenan (HYC) was another cheerful bronze fleeter enjoying himself. Meghan Darmody (HYC) learned what it was like to race with big numbers and had several excellent starts. Elizabeth Ferris (HYC) dipped in and out of the regatta as her mood took her and rumour has it that she's now warming to the class.

Phoebe Tyrrell & Robert Ferris participated & raced in the regatta fleet over the 4 days of the championship. The weather was perfect for them and it was the most successful running to date of this fun and development fleet for the younger and less experienced sailors.

Special mention must go to HYC Club Dinghy Coach, Gillian Guinness who provided warm and friendly Coach Support for all HYC sailors and for quite a few others who asked.

Belfast Lough is well known to Gillian as she regularly competes in Squib events at Cultra. She gave her fellow RIB crewmembers snippets of geography and sailing history throughout the four days.

The coach support role consisted of individual briefings to the sailors each morning discussing aspects facing them that day such as weather and tide and for some, strategy regarding where they were lying in the fleet. The Coach was available on the water for advice, observation, motivation & consolation between races. More than anything else, the Coach role was like that of a waiter to the racers by providing copious quantities of food and beverages to all and sundry!

Katie White and Gillian Guinness

Photos : Thanks to Neil Murphy

Results :
RNIYC Press Report :

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