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Optimist Irish National Championships a blast

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Optimist Irish National Championships a blast

Despite Storm Betty roaring across Belfast Lough on Friday and Saturday, the IODAI Optimist Irish and Open National Championships held 17–20 August 2023 at Ballyholme Yacht Club (BYC) were a blast with the young sailors getting to experience a full range of sailing conditions over the course of the event!

Close to 130 competitors took part in the championship with the young sailors and their families travelling from every corner of the island of Ireland as well as Great Britain, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Ukraine and even as far away as South Africa.

Visitors started arriving in Bangor earlier in the week to familiarise themselves with conditions and to take part in a team racing event on the Wednesday before the main competition began on Thursday. Conditions were vigorous on Thursday as the breeze stiffened with the impending arrival of Storm Betty. Friday was a day spent off the water with the focus on learning, fun and socialising as the storm passed through. Fortunately, by Saturday afternoon competitors were back on the water with Sunday providing a full day of racing in perfect sailing conditions.

Matthew Holden, BYC
BYC’s Matthew Holden making a splash in the Optimist Irish Nationals (Credit Wavelenth Image)

On the podium

Ruan O’Tiarnaigh, Principal Race Officer, with Patrick Fegan of Malahide Yacht Club being presented his Junior Irish Champion trophy (Credit Wavelenth Image)

The Mayor of Ards and North Down Borough Council Jennifer Gilmore, and Romain Ingouf, Technical Director of Artemis Technology, joined in to present the prizes to the many winners. In addition, the Principal Race Officer for the event, Ruan O’Tiarnaigh, was delighted to present the Junior Irish Championship trophy, a prize he won many years ago at the start of his sailing career!

Champions of the event included Howth sailor Harry Dunne, who topped the podium in the Senior fleet followed by Gemma Brady of National Yacht Club and Lough Derg Yacht Club. Visitor Charlotte Crosbie of CN Javae (Spain) was third.

In the Junior fleet Arthur Baker, also of CN Javae was first, with Patrick Fegan of the Royal St George Yacht Club and Malahide Yacht Club taking second place overall and, being the first Irish sailor, is the new Irish Junior National Champion. Third place went to Emily Donagh of RstGYC / LDYC.

The Regatta Racing fleet was won by UK sailor Iain Coward of Hayling Island, with Michael Hanley of the National Yacht Club placing second overall, and as first Irish boat he becomes the National Champion for 2023 in this fleet.

The Coached Regatta fleet, which provides a supportive format for younger sailors, enjoyed great racing and in the spirit of that class, results are not presented as its focus is rather on fun, building confidence, meeting new friends – and ice cream!

A credit to our member volunteers

The event was the third major sailing event hosted by BYC this summer. BYC Commodore Rob Milligan said: “Despite the fairly challenging conditions I am proud that once again, BYC members ably organised and hosted a national sailing event.

“These are major events bringing in a large number of visitors to Bangor and to BYC, but they are run by club volunteers who put in an incredible effort and provide a huge welcome to our visitors. The feedback from the competitors was very positive, both on and off the water, with many remarking on our beautiful coastline and warm hospitality. I join them in thanking all the hard work put in by our volunteers and especially by organisers, Shaun and Cathy Doran, and Emma and Mark Holden.”

To see more fantastic event photos please visit Wavelenth Image

Previous 2023 events

ILCA (Laser) Ulsters 2023  1st July – 2nd July 2023

The Irish Topper Nationals   7th July – 9th July 2023

Upcoming events

RYA NI Youth Championships 2023 9th-10th September 2023

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