Optimist Team Racing trophy returns to Howth
Author: Neil Murphy Posted on: 7/7/06 Print Version

Helen Mary Wilkes, former President of the International Optimist Dinghy Association (IODA) presented the Vice President's Cup to the victorious Howth1 team

Alan Ruigrok, Diana Kissane, Helen Mary Wilkes
Andrew Tyrell & Timothy O'Laoire
After a hard fought series of races between the seven teams competing for the Vice President's Cup, the final came down to a last beat battle between the Howth 1 and the Kinsale YC teams. Howth ultimately secured the positions they needed to win and, as well as receiving the trophy for the event, can now look forward to a trip to Italy to compete for the Grand Optical Champions Cup.

It was decided to host the Optimist team racing championship this year in conjunction with the Saab Eastern Championships so 7 teams of 4 sailors gathered in HYC a day earlier than the rest of the competitors for the Saab Easterns. Tralee Bay SC, Lough Ree YC, National YC, Royal St George YC, Kinsale YC the two teams from Howth YC were afloat at 10.30 and heading out for a round robin series, sailed in two leagues. The Lough Ree YC team established their place in Optimist history by being the first team to be composed of four siblings - Cillian, Cormac, Meabh and Tiernan Dickson creating another chapter in the history of one of Ireland's best known sailing dynasties.

The pre-event favourites were last year's winners, RstGYC and the HYC 1 teams. Both lived up to expectations and topped the results in their respective leagues. Sailed in fine weather and a shifty force 3, racing was very fair with lots of penalty turns being taken voluntarily under the careful scrutiny of umpires David Cagney, Gillian Guinness and Alistair Kissane.

The event format decreed that each league winner would race the runner up in the other league in semi-finals to decide which teams would go on to race for the title of 2006 champions. The pairings pitted HYC 1 against HYC 2 and RStGYC against Kinsale, whose team had proved very impressive in the league stage and only lost to HYC 1 on a tie break decision. The first semi-final went to form and despite a lull in the wind, which looked for a while like causing an upset, HYC 1 beat HYC 2. The second semi-final was a nail biting affair, with close covering and manoeuvring right to the finish line, before Kinsale secured victory and knocked out the trophy holders.

Right from the preparatory signal for the final, the HYC 1 and Kinsale teams chased each other around the starting area. Kinsale were unlucky enough to have a premature starter, which influenced the shape of the race as their three boats attempted to slow down the pace enough to allow the fourth rejoin the fray. The race bunched up at the leeward mark and HYC were put under fierce pressure up the last beat as Kinsale did their utmost to snatch a victory. However, HYC's covering worked and they regained the title that the HYC Optimist fleet last won in 2004.

At the prize giving, HYC Vice Commodore Gerry O'Neill welcomed the sailors and introduced Helen Mary Wilkes, presenter of the Vice President's Cup and former President of the International Optimist Dinghy Association (IODA). She was accompanied by her husband Robert, another stalwart of the Class both in Ireland and internationally, who is the current Secretary of IODA. Helen Mary was one of the founders of the Irish class and spoke fondly of her memories of previous team racing events and the growth in the number of Optimists competing in Ireland.

The Howth 1 team of Diana Kissane, Timothy O'Laoire, Alan Ruigrok and Andrew Tyrell now go forward to represent Ireland in the Grand Optical Champion's Cup at Previ di Ledro in Italy from August 22-26th and carry all our best wishes with them.

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