It was a great day for Malahides McDowell family, with Optimist and 420 sailors to the fore today in Sutton.

Day 1 of the 38th All ireland Inter-Schools Sailing event here at Sutton Dinghy Club saw almost a hundred boats take to the water. With team and individual prizes up for grabs this is always a unique opportunity for the youngest and oldest students to represent their school together on the same team. This is clearly seen as a matter of pride and honour judging by all the team photos being taken before the launch.

With a 10knot westerly breeze the 112 sailors in 40+ mixed and optimist teams launched to represent more than 25 different  schools from around the country.

The largest fleet is the Mixed Fleet racing Portsmouth Yardstick with the various Lasers accounting for 40 of the 65 boats. They would not have it all their own way however as there was a strong contingent of 420’s as well as a number of very well handicapped Mirrors.

Well sailed, a Mirror is more than capable of being in the hunt for individual prizes and making valuable team contribution.

Race 1 saw Malahide Community School brace of 420’s lead on the water while further back time-wise a couple of St. Fintans Mirrors were always in contention. The Laser Radials were having very close racing with 7 or 8 boats from Kilkenny College, Blackrock, Belvedere and Santa Sabina too close to call.

At the end 2 420’s, 2 Mirrors and a Laser Radial made up top 5 placings with Malahide Community School A, St Fintans A and Kilkenny now setting the  pace for the team event.

With the wind dropping race 2 started with a shortened course always on the cards. Again on the water the 420’s and Laser Radials got well ahead as the wind started to drop further. The PRO Scorie Walls duly issued orders for shortened course. The 420’s from Malahide Community School A took top 2 spots with a St Fintans A Mirror in 3rd.

The third race got underway, but it very quickly became clear a single lap of the track would be all that could be completed with wind dying away. A shortened course however did not change the order as the 420’s continued to dominate with Belvedere boat now joining Malahide duo in the top 3. The Mirrors from St Fintans A had decent finishes and with good Laser Radial finishes from Kilkenny and Belvedere A left these 3 teams close but well behind Malahide Community School A.

With one more race tomorrow it looks like Malahide Community School A after some very close finishes in recent years may finally put their name on the Team Trophy.

With 3 bullets under her belt already, it looks like Lizzie McDowell/Colm Waddilove will take top individual from her brother Philip and Colin O’Sullivan. These 2 are clear ahead of Shane McLoughlin (St Fintans) in the individual series.

The Optimist fleet managed 2 races, with 2 more scheduled for Sunday. Honours were split between Gemma McDowell, from Malahide Community School and Loghlen Rickard from Gonzaga. With a 1st and 2nd each they they jointly lead the individual series from the O’Grady twins Alex and Jamie who along with Shane O’Brien in 8th place make up a formidable Belvedere team. They lead the Team event from St Fintans and Mount Anville.

With 2 races tomorrow there are still podium places up for grabs in the Optimist event.

Photos from today will be available shortly.