After 10 hard fought races, sailed in a variety of conditions against a fleet of 142 boats, defending champion Diana Kissane won the 2006 Irish Musto National Optimist Championships in Kinsale YC on Sunday 20th August.
At 14 years of age Diana thus joins the ranks of the small number of Irish sailors who have succeeded in winning back to back class championships.
Race Areas and Entry
Kinsale YC took on the daunting prospect of organising the four day event for the 188 boat entry and the huge effort put in by their army of volunteers made the championships a great success both afloat and ashore.
Apart from the 143 boats in the Main fleet, there were a further 46 in the Regatta fleet.
Racing for the older and more experienced Main fleet sailors was held south of the entrance to Kinsale in the same area that the Sovereign's Cup cruiser event is run.
The Regatta fleet competed in the more sheltered waters under Charles Fort.
12 HYC boats raced in the Main fleet and another 6 competed in the Regatta fleet.
Richard & Alice Kissane, Diana and her brother Alister
To reduce the start lines to manageable proportions, the Main fleet was divided into four equally balanced flights. A pair of the flights raced each other in every race so there were two starts for every race. The plan was that over the course of the planned 12 races each sailor should race everybody else three times.
PRO Alan Crosbie succeeded in getting his scheduled three races per day completed on the first three days of the event, with only one general recall in the 18 starts. Conditions were very varied and ranged from choppy seas and a force 2-3 on the first day to the excitement of Saturday's force 4 over a flat sea with good planing reaches.
The visiting boats were competing for the Irish Open title. The 6 strong USA team showed that they had prepared well by putting in very consistent performances, always rounding the weather mark in the leading group. Jordan Factor ultimately took the Open title, beating her team mate Declan Whitmeyer by just one point. The best of the strong thirty boat GBR team was third placed James Grant, just ahead of 4th placed USA sailor Marlena Fauer.
In the Irish Championship the title rapidly came down to a battle between Diana Kissane and Kinsale sailor Cian O'Regan. Out of the ten races ultimately completed both won two and, apart from a 30th place by Cian in one race, both were never out of the top ten places. On Saturday night, with only three races left to sail, there were only three points between Diana and Cian. However Diana's greater consistency in the earlier races gave her the advantage of better discards and greater scope to survive a bad race. Nonetheless, given the size of the fleet and the potential for visiting sailors to finish between the Irish contenders, there was no room for error.
In race 10, the flood tide and light breeze caused starting problems and the black flag had to be hauled up to get both starts of the race under way. By coincidence, Cian and Diana were racing each other in the first race and, after a hard fought battle, Cian finished one place ahead of her to pull back one point of his deficit. However the recalls, unsteady breeze and the need to relay the course a number of times ultimately resulted in there being no time for more racing. The fleet was sent ashore, confirming Diana in 5th place overall and first Irish boat whilst Cian was one place behind her in both the Open and Irish events.
In the Regatta fleet, HYC's Lewis Eickholt had a very successful week in his first Nationals and went into the last day sharing the lead. However his last races were three of his worst of the event and he had to settle for third place overall. At 10 years of age he is definitely one to watch for the future.
Apart from Diana Kissane, other HYC helms to have good series were Tim O'Laoire (17th overall / 6th Irish), Alan Ruigrok (34th / 16th Irish), Oliver Keenan (36th / 17th Irish) and Andrew Tyrell (41st / 21st Irish).
Full results at www.kyc.ie/optimist2006/results.html