HYC Optimist Success Continues at Munster Championships

05 July 2023
HYC Optimist Success Continues at Munster Championships

Harry Dunne, fresh from representing Ireland at the Optimist World Championships in Spain, continued his dominance of the domestic Optimist Class scene at the weekend at the Munster Championships in Dunmore East hosted by Waterford Harbour Sailing Club in some epic conditions over the the two days of tough racing.

The forecast of fresh winds didn’t deter almost 130 young sailors from descending on Dunmore East over the weekend of 1/2 July which marked the start of the school holidays for many. HYC was represented by 7 sailors including Dan Cullen and Cian Spain in Regatta Racing, Sarah McLoughlin and Lucy Scott in Junior Main and Harry Dunne, Will Cullen and Kate Spain in Senior Main.

The fleets were spread across 2 race courses for the weekend and the Regatta Racing fleet provided a great spectacle for those enjoying the sunny weather on the club’s large balcony racing to the east of the main harbour in the more sheltered, but gusty, area just outside the main bay. Two races were completed on the Saturday with many war stories exchanged upon the sailors return to the shore.

The main fleets weren’t afforded the same protection of the bay and were sent out to the south of the main harbour into fresh conditions gusting well into the high 20s at times with the added challenge of the famous Dunmore East swell to contend with but with over 30 safety boats on the water it allowed the competitors to enjoy these classic conditions in a safe environment.

Despite the challenging conditions the main fleets also got two races in on the Saturday and Harry led the way overnight in Senior Fleet tied on points with Gemma Brady from the National Yacht Club. Kate Spain suffered two capsizes in the opening two races, her first in over a year, but came ashore in good spirits after enjoying the wavy conditions despite the setbacks. Will Cullen put in a consistent day with two 22nd place finishes in the 37 boat fleet with Sarah and Lucy gaining some valuable experience in the 29 boat Junior Fleet.

Sunday promised a slightly lighter day wind wise but with a slight change in direction more to the west it left both courses a little more exposed and all sailors were treated to another day of tough upwind legs and rollercoaster rides downwind. Despite an OCS in race 2 of the day Harry finished the event strongly with a 2, 1, 1 on the final day, just pipping club mate, Kate Spain, in the last race of the series who came back strongly after her first tough day with 3 top 10 finishes. Will showed some incredible consistency to add another pair of 22nd places to his score and finished the event in 4th place in Bronze fleet which also means he is now promoted to Silver fleet for the next event.

The prize giving began with the presentation of team gear to the International Development Squad, which was selected at the Irish Sailing Youth Nationals hosted by HYC in April, who will represent Ireland at the French Open National Championships later in July and includes HYC’s Kate Spain. At the prize giving itself Will Cullen picked up 4th overall in Senior Main Bronze Fleet and of course Harry was presented with 1st overall in Senior Main Fleet.

Including the Youth Nationals, Harry now has a clean sweep of domestic events this year except for the Ulster Championship which clashed with the recent World Championships he attended, so we’ll forgive for that one! Next up on the calendar are the National Championships hosted by Ballyholme in mid August and all eyes will be waiting to see if Harry and HYC can continue their success so far this year!

As always, if you are interested in attending but have not travelled to an away event before please get in touch with class captain, Mark McLoughlin, who will be happy to help with advice and any queries. Fleets cater for all abilities, regardless of age, from complete novices right up to the hotshots representing the country at international events and there’s a ton of lifetime friends to be made.