HYC was well represented at the Optimist Ulsters sailed at Carlingford Lough YC over 17th & 18th June. In the final results HYC were well to the fore with the first three, and 2 more of the first 10 sailors, having a Howth affiliation.
There were 9 HYC members racing in the 55 boat Main Fleet whilst Robert Ferris was the sole representative in the 11 boat Regattta fleet. Despite the challenging conditions on both days, the Main Fleet completed all of their scheduled six races. Saturday turned out to be a long and trying day afloat as the PRO was forced to hunt the fickle breeze around the Lough. After the end of the first race the wind disappeared for 90 minutes, then reappeared fitfully from various directions to give the mark layers plenty of exercise, before it finally settled enough for the second and third races to be sailed.
The varying wind directions and strengths across the race area gave most of the sailors alternating doses of excitement and despair as they picked a path from puff to puff, all the time aware that the very strong tide flowing against them on the windward legs would wash them backwards if they misjudged things. Despite the conditions, over the three races the front rank of the fleet never varied much and Diana Kissane, Tim O'Laoire and Ross Vaughan finished the day with no results worse than 8th. Oliver Keenan found the conditions to his liking and finished second in the first race, his best ever result at a regional event. After the humid and fickle conditions of the first day, Sunday produced a contrast with heavy rain and a cool force 3-4 south-westerly breeze. Although the tide continued to play a big role in the racing, the steadier wind reduced the number of variables to be contended with.
HYC members Diana, Tim, Ross and Alan Ruigrok between them won all six of the races sailed over the weekend, but going into the last race only Diana, Tim and Ross were in contention for the overall victory. After a consistently good set of races up till then (including two wins), Ross was unlucky enough to save his worst race until last. Approaching the finish line, Tim and Diana knew that whichever of them finished ahead of the other would win the event. The cliffhanger finish saw Diana edge out Tim on the line and snatch the second place that gave her first place overall.
Ulster Champion for 2006 is therefore Diana Kissane with fellow HYC members Tim O'Laoire in 2nd, Ross Vaughan 3rd, Alexander Rumball (HYC/RStGYC) 4th and Alan Ruigrok (HYC/SSC/RSC) 6th. Oliver Keenan kept up the good form he had shown in the first race and finished in 12th place overall, winning 2nd prize in the Silver Fleet, whilst Padraig Finnegan also sailed a consistent series to finish 6th in the Silver Fleet and 23rd overall. Conor Murphy and Scott Flanigan found the conditions on Saturday very hard work but recovered on Sunday to move up to 25th and 26th overall. In the Regatta Fleet Robert Ferris finished 7th overall after six good races and also enjoyed the benefit of the intensive coaching from the team of IODAI coaches appointed for the event.
The next, and final, regional event on the 2006 Optimist calendar is the Easterns, which will be sailed at Howth on July 8th and 9th. A good turnout is expected and again there will be both Main Fleet and Regatta Fleet racing over the weekend. Entry forms are available on the HYC website. Caroline Burke is chairing the organising committee and all offers of assistance will be very welcome.
For full results of Ulsters see http://www.iodai.com/live/237.htm