16 boats from Howth YC helped to swell the fleet of Optimists gathered at the Royal St. George YC on June 3rd for the two day IODAI Leinster Championships to a very impressive 125. This was the second event of the Optimist calendar with the first, the Munsters at Royal Cork YC, having been reduced to a single day of racing by the poor weather and strong wind. A greater contrast with the Leinsters would be hard to imagine and the sailors' major concerns on Saturday last, apart from avoiding the HSS, were whether there would be enough wind and what sun protection factor to use.
5 of the Howth boats raced in the 28 strong Regatta Fleet. Mark Condy, Phoebe Tyrell, Jenny Scott, Erica Ruigrok and Robert Ferris went afloat with the team of IODAI coaches, led by Daz O'Reilly, for two days of coaching combined with 6 races. The force 2-3 breeze provided ideal conditions and in Scotsman's Bay they were sheltered from the worst of the fickle Dublin Bay tides. Mark Condy secured wins in both the first and last races of their event to finish an excellent 3rd overall, whilst Phoebe Tyrell was able to count a 2nd in the points tally that left her 8th overall. Regardless of their finishing place, all of the sailors made new friends and logged valuable experience over the two days.
The Main Fleet, comprised of the gold, silver and bronze sub-groups, headed to an area reserved for them off Sandymount Strand. The sea breeze settled in early and racing got underway under the management of PRO Brian Craig. Many of those not used to the local wind and tide conditions found consistent results hard to achieve but Matt O'Dowd (RStGYC) had no such problems and finished the day with a score of 4,1,1. Tim O'Leary was the best of the HYC fleet with a 3,9,3 score whilst Diana Kissane with a 5,12,12 and Conor Murphy with a 6,14,13 were not too far behind.
On Sunday the racing was nearer the harbour but in an area with stronger tides. The first two races were started on the gradient Westerly, albeit after 4 general recalls and a resort to the Black flag to ensure the fleet were finished in time to start the 3rd race before the 15.30 cut off time. Matt O'Dowd continued his form from Saturday to secure another 1st and a 2nd and seal his victory with a race left to sail. The last race was preceded by a reversal in wind direction, as the sea breeze suddenly appeared and forced the PRO to relay the course.
The patchy force 1-2, tide in full flood and 30 degree wind oscillations made it a hard race to plan but Diana Kissane made the best of the conditions. She had a comfortable lead at the leeward gate with only a short beat left to the finish and short odds being quoted against her getting the gun and adding to the 4th and 8th she had scored in the first two races to improve her overall placing. However, the combination of the tide across the course, a savage wind shift and the race committee moving the outer limit back up the beat - when she was nearest to the position it had drifted to - dropped her back 19 places over a 300 metre long leg.
Redress claims from a number of competitors led to a reassessment of the finishing positions, with placings prior to the relaying of the outer limit being taken into account. Diana was eventually awarded points for 1st place by the Protest Committee, the only Main Fleet victory for HYC over the weekend.
Matt O'Dowd (RStGYC) was the clear winner of the event, followed by his clubmate Jamie Aplin. Of the HYC Gold fleet sailors, Diana Kissane was best in 5th place overall, followed by Conor Murphy (11th), Tim O'Laoire (12th), Alan Ruigrok (15th), Andrew Tyrell (18th) and Scott Flanigan (38th). Oliver Keenan and Padraig Finnegan secured 11th and 12th places in the Silver fleet with Ali Dix 16th. In the Bronze fleet Tara Flood and Gary Scott were 17th and 19th respectively.
The next Optimist event is the Ulsters on Carlingford Lough (June 17th/18th) and Howth YC then host the Easterns on July 7th/8th.
For full results of Optimist Leinsters see www.iodai.com/live/