Optimist Trials 2006 - Final weekend at Skerries
  Author: Neil Murphy      Posted on: 1/5/06

Photos by Seán A  Laoire

The final day of the 2006 Optimist Trials produced very challenging conditions and some changes in fortune saw Tim O'Laoire move up to win a place on the World's team whilst Diana Kissane and Alan Ruigrok secured European team invites.

The first weekend produced some typical lake sailing on Lough Derg and left 11 year-old Jamie Aplin (RStGYC) as clear leader.

The consensus was that the second leg in Skerries would see the older and more experienced challengers climbing the leaderboard.

Saturday's three races were sailed in a force 2 - 3 northerly and ebbing spring tide that kicked up a short chop.

Jamie Aplin continued as before, winning two of the three races sailed to raise his tally to 6 victories from 12 starts.

HYC interest was on Diana Kissane and Tim O'Laoire, in 5th and 8th places after Lough Derg. Tim had the better day whilst Diana's score was blighted by an OCS.

Tim O'Laoire finishing first
of 3 wins in series
Sunday was grey and windless and an early Sunday lunch ashore was the popular expectation. The determination of PRO Martin Byrne saw two races completed in the light, shifting breeze. Tim found the conditions difficult and scored a 50 in the first race, his worst result to date, before recovering to an 8th in the second while Diana scored a 16 and 18. HYC's Alan Ruigrok, who also club sails in Skerries, continued his climb up the leaderboard by winning the second race.

Going into the last day, Tim and Diana were in 8th and 9th place overall, leaving them both confident of qualifying for the European Championships but with a lot to do get into the top 5 and secure a Worlds invitation. Alan Ruigrok was in 11th place and battling for a Europeans place, whilst Andrew Tyrell (14th) still had an outside chance. Out in front remained Jamie Aplin, but now with only a five point lead over the more experienced Cian O'Regan (Kinsale YC)

Monday produced the much anticipated Skerries blow. The older, bigger and more experienced sailors were smiling as they went afloat to face the cold force 5 northwesterly with white horses all over the bay. Cian O'Regan reeled off a 1,2,1 to move up to 1st overall, leaving Jamie Aplin in 2nd. Tim O'Laoire revelled in the conditions and scored a 2,1,3 - good enough to move him up to 5th overall and secure the last of the coveted Worlds' invitations. Diana's two 4ths and an 18th kept her in 9th overall, winning her the opportunity to race at another Europeans and improve on her excellent 16th place finish at last year's event. Alan Ruigrok gained a place to 10th overall and guaranteed his spot on the European Team.


HYC coach Daz O'Reilly debriefing.
Daz provided superb support and advice to HYC sailors during the event, with Gillian Guinness also during second part of trials at Skerries.

Cian O Regan Kinsale leading Tim O'Laoire
in second place in final race of trials.

The rest of the HYC entrants did very well. Andrew Tyrell (17th), Scott Flanigan (21st), Conor Murphy (23rd) and Alexander Rumball (26th) will all race in the Optimist Gold Fleet for the 2006 season. Padraig Finnegan (36th) secured promotion to the Silver fleet whilst Oliver Keenan (44th) and Ali Dix (47th) will also join the Silver fleet and won invites to the under 12s squad competing in the UK Nationals later this year. RNIYC's Ross Vaughan - who also enjoys HYC membership - produced a very consistent series of races to finish 3rd overall.

The Trials produced as wide a range of weather conditions as could have been hoped for and fully tested the sailors' abilities. The HYC sailors' performances earned them a fair return on their winter training and they are now looking forward to an enjoyable and successful Summer regatta season. Many thanks to HYC club coach Gillian Guinness and Optimist coach Daz O'Reilly for their advice and support in Skerries and their commitment and enthusiasm over the duration of the Winter training programme.

For full results see http://www.iodai.com/live/202.html

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