Optimist Easter Regatta at Braassemermeer in Holland
Author: Reamon Ryan Posted on: 13/4/05 Print Version

What's so great about Braassemermeer?
The Easter Regatta at Braassemermeer in Holland is by invitation only. All 290 sailors from a dozen countries who compete had to pre-qualify at national level before attending. IODAI selects the top 25 available Irish sailors to invite to make up a team.

For most under 15 year olds, it is the pinnacle of their sailing career in Optimists, hence the overwhelming pride in being part of the Irish team.
Outward Bound
Twenty-five excited young oppy sailors dressed in their smart navy hoodies met in Schipol Airport, Amsterdam on Tuesday March 22nd. The Dublin contingent had been treated to an opportunity of viewing the Airbus A320 cockpit at disembarkation by Captain Gerry Comerford, an active Squib sailor in Howth Yacht Club. By the time we reached Braassemermeer Yacht Club, the Cork contingent had already unloaded the boats from the IODAI 25 boat trailer, a gesture that was most appreciated. Full marks to Philip Brownlow and his team for getting things off to a great start.

Irish olympic coach, Maurice 'Prof' O'Connell and Braassemermeer 2004 veteran coach, Tristan McMillan made up the coach team. Wednesday and Thursday was dedicated to rigorous coaching. The coach team was very professional and the sailors were very cooperative in their thirst to learn from such quality coaches. They were each a credit to themselves and their clubs both on and off the water. There was a view that more time on the water would have been desirable but this was not logistically possible.

Practice Day Warning
Friday was practice day with an all boats start (290 on the line). Given the impossibility of a fair line with that many boats, this race is not taken very seriously and the results are not part of the regatta. The PRO displayed great leniency at the start of the practice race. At the windward mark, a board displayed the ominous message 'Catch you tomorrow!'

Team Structure
The primary organiser of the Irish Team was Alice Kissane ably assisted at the helm by Greg Lawless (both HYC). There was no shortage of enjoyment by the back-up team of about a dozen parents who balanced their responsibilities for the 25 sailors with the reality that they were after all, on holidays! They were unaware that Big Brother was watching them. Alice received a text message while she was having lunch with Sean O'Laoire asking her to wave. Her husband, IODAI President, Richard could see her live over the internet via the Braassemermeer webcam. You can't get away with anything these days!

Accommodation for the team was based on the North Sea coastal resort of Norwijk about 45 minutes by bus to Braassemermeer. Despite having a menu that didn't meet the gourmet home standards of the sailors, other relaxed aspects of the Hotel made it suitable for the team. There was snooker, swimming and socialising for those who had any energy left after a full day's sailing.

The Regatta Begins
Saturday was a dull and overcast day with no more than 5 knots of shifty winds, making it very difficult for the young sailors. It was a great disappointment to seventeen of the Irish sailors to discover that they had been black-flagged in the assertiveness on the start-line. Prof and Tristan addressed the issue at de-brief and there were no more black flags for the duration of the regatta. On Saturday night there was a cloud of disappointment hanging over the hopefuls in the Irish camp. It seemed that the months and years of preparation from these motivated contenders were not being reflected in the results. Sunday's racing in 7 knots was also very challenging with the odd good results in the Irish camp. For Monday, the previous two days results were used to divide the fleet into Gold, Silver & Bronze. Cian O'Regan of KYC was the shining light for the Irish team and the single sailor to make it into the gold fleet. Full Irish results are included below.

Friendly Rivalry
On the plus side, there was a very happy, carefree and joyfull relationship between the sailors from all countries. It never ceases to amaze adults at the ease with which teenagers can forge new friendships that will be long remembered and treasured. Many of these sailors will cross paths again in future international competitions, such is the wonderful community that sailing provides.

Final Analysis
Afrodite Kyranakou of Greece was the deserving winner wit the following results ..
5 2 1 2 1 (7) = 11

About the Irish results
There was a general concern that these did not do justice to the skills of the Irish team. The black flags were central to their disappointing performance. Many sailors achieved great starts and sailed well until the last beat due to the exceptional length of the trapezoidal course and the duration of the races (up to 1 hour and 45 minutes). With such long races in exceptionally light and shifty conditions, it is difficult for sailors to remain focussed for such a prolonged time. The huge numbers of boats on the water (290) was often intimidating and the various fleets crossed courses.

Whatever is said, there is no doubt that the experience of participating in such a huge regatta is an unforgettable memory for every Irish Optimist sailor and one to which they will refer for years to come. Well done team!

FINAL RESULTS for Irish Boats
HYC members highlighted

Gold Fleet
88IRL 1105O'Regan Cian173.0 46 6 (bfd) 26 30 65
Silver Fleet
34IRL 1150Vaughan Ross196.0 24 67 (bfd) 22 45 38
39IRL 1019Boylan Mark202.0 50 56 (bfd) 27 40 29
43IRL 1154Finnegan Luke209.0 54 (74) 39 68 33 15
48IRL 1145Kenefick David217.0 63 62 (bfd) 25 39 28
49IRL 1141O'Laoire Timothy218.0 54 34 (bfd) 40 14 76
56IRL 1129Costigan Jack226.0 (bfd) 64 40 50 52 20
66IRL 1114Rumball Alyson231.0 12 70 (bfd) 30 42 77
70IRL 1107Leonard Maeve240.0 (69) 46 50 49 38 57
74IRL 1161Brien Tiffany244.0 (bfd) 77 19 43 64 41
89IRL 1087Lawless Adam266.0 61 24 49 67 65 (75)
Bronze Fleet
26IRL 1023Kissane Diana268.0 (bfd) 29 bfd 54 61 34
27IRL 1163Dix Patrick269.0 (80) 79 44 65 60 21
33IRL 944Scallan Ben279.0 (bfd) 61 bfd 63 56 8
34IRL 1147Ryan Andrew281.0 58 (75) 57 58 71 37
35IRL 992Murphy Jennifer282.0 66 45 45 64 (80) 62
36IRL 1059Tingle Sallyann286.0 42 71 (bfd) 51 75 47
40IRL 1117Vaughan Brian293.0 43 68 61 65 (77) 56
41IRL 994Coady Nessa295.0 63 66 62 (77) 66 38
61IRL 1008Kingston John331.0 76 80 55 79 (85) 41
62IRL 927White Katie331.0 81 (85) 50 75 74 51
67IRL 1122Brownlow Wesley341.0 54 (dns) 35 dsq 72 dns
75IRL 1157Ruigrok Alan369.0 86 69 (bfd) 80 80 54
78IRL 1086Niamh Lane371.0 77 (86) 58 84 86 66
80IRL 1063Scott Ryan376.0 85 (dns) 62 dnf 86 53
82IRL 1099Judge Aisling381.0 dne 73 (bfd) 83 83 52

Braassemermeer website :

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