Sutton Dinghy Clubs ‘All Ireland Inter-Schools’ Sailing event took place last weekend. Due to tides the event was run 2 weeks earlier than usual and despite the fact most schools had only been open less than 2 weeks the event attracted just under 100 boats with 41 Optimists and a Mixed Fleet of 57 boats competing under Portsmouth Yardstick handicap. With more than 30 teams drawn from 20 schools including entries from Cork and Sligo the event features a team event alongside an individual event. Complete Results here.
The event this year attracted a mix of top end junior and youth sailors including recent ISAF World Cup attendee Aoife Hopkins and Ewan McMahon who placed 3rd (& top U17) at the recent Laser Europa event in Germany. The Optimist fleet included Tom Higgins (Gonzaga) and Dylan O’Grady runner up in recent Optimist Leinsters. The unique event gives regular club sailors an opportunity to compete for their schools with some of Irelands top young sailors. Down the years the event has been graced by Olympians Ger Owens, Dan O’Grady, Annalise Murphy, David Burrows as well as a host of other international and champions sailors.
With winds in excess of 24kts on Saturday morning and expected to continue till mid-afternoon and with little room for postponement due to tides the PRO’s Jim Lambkin (Mixed Fleet) and Paul ‘PK’ Kavanagh (Optimist Fleet) took the decision to cancel racing and hope the weather gods looked favorably on Sunday.
An early briefing on Sunday and with a fresh wind of 10-15kts, the PRO’S launched both fleets and racing was underway before 11am. Mixed Fleet PRO Jim Lambkin with 57 boats on split start lines either side of the Committee boat managed 4 clean starts with the faster boats doing 3 rounds of the course each time and the slower dinghies doing 2 rounds.
The top end of the fleet didn’t disappoint with close racing between Blackrock Colleges Ewan McMahon, Santa Sabina’s Aoife Hopkins and Belvedere Colleges Alex and Jamie O’Grady. With each boat type handicapped differently each sailor knows its not always first on the water and each is keenly aware of how other boats are doing. Sutton Dinghy Clubs top Mirror sailor Conor Twohig & Brian Sheehy, recently runner up in the Mirror Nationals was always going to be a threat despite being slower on the water. With each team (max of 3 and minimum of 2 boats) to count 2 results from each race, it really requires a team effort to get into podium position. The wind speed continued in the mid teens through the early afternoon and with continual rain it was a tough day for the less experienced sailors. With tide restrictions the Mixed Fleet boats managed 2 races each (4 starts across 2 flights).
At the end of the day when PY handicaps were applied, team scores added, and discards applied Gonzaga and St Fintans, Sutton were tied on 31points with St Fintans taking the Conor Nolan Trophy on a count-back. Blackrock College were 3rd, Santa Sabina 4th and Belvedere College 5th. The Individual Trophy went to Ewan McMahon (Blackrock College) with Conor Twohig & Brian Sheehy 2nd just ahead of Aoife Hopkins.
- 1st St Fintans, Sutton (Conor Twohig & Brian Sheehy, Darragh Kelly, Oscar Reynolds)
- 2nd Gonzaga (Guy Boggan, Patrick Coyle, Alex Start & Luke Beatty)
- 3rd Blackrock College (Ewan McMahon, Mark O’Connor, Patrick Riordan)
On the inner Optimist course and without having to worry about handicaps, PRO Paul Kavanagh put the 41 boat fleet through 3 tough races. With steady 15kt breeze the youngsters enjoyed close racing. With pressure to complete a 3rd race, PK resorted to a black flag start following a couple of general recalls. The experienced Opi sailors kept their noses clean and young Tom Higgins (Gonzaga) took the Individual prize from Dylan O’Grady & Sam Crawford (both Belvedere College). A superb team effort saw St Fintans National School hold off Belvedere College A and Belvedere College B to take the Davidson Memorial Trophy.
- 1st St Fintans National School (H Turvey, E McMahon, R Lacey)
- 2nd Belvedere College A (S Crawford, B McDonald)
- 3rd Belvedere College B (D O’Grady, C Waddilove).
With plenty of parents and a few teachers around, the Club had plenty of food and tea and coffee available throughout what was a wet and cold day. Despite the weather it was generally agreed to be a great event and one most of the young sailors have already earmarked for the diary next year. While the sailors compete normally in a wide variety of different boats and classes, this event develops lasting friendships and rivalries that otherwise would not happen. The honour of representing the school also creates a very different dynamic for the sailors normally used to racing for themselves in regular events.
PRO and Sutton Dinghy Club Commodore Jim Lambkin conducted the prize-giving and the Club were delighted to welcome the extended Nolan family who were in attendance. Patsy Nolan presented the Conor Nolan Trophy to Conor Twohig and the rest of the victorious St Fintans, Sutton team. Former Commodore Muriel O’Tiarnaigh also presented Conor Twohig with the O’Tiarnaigh Trophy for top Sutton Dinghy Club helm and to cap a great season for Conor and his crew Brian Sheehy, they also picked up the Mirror Cup for top performing Mirror presented this year for the first time by the Mirror Association of Ireland. Complete results here.
We hope to be able to add additional photographs from prize-giving soon.