Report from the Optimist Munster Championships

24 July 2019
Report from the Optimist Munster Championships
This year the Optimist Munster Championships were held in Waterford Harbour Sailing Club, Dunmore East.  From HYC we had 20 sailors in representation at the event across all fleets. 
Regatta fleet:
In the regatta fleet we had 4 Howth sailors, Keelan Darby, Katie Fanning, Ben Keating and Cian O’Neill.
Day 1: Medium breeze and an increasing swell brought new and challenging conditions to the young sailors in the regatta fleet. After four races on the Saturday, the child who learned to sail via YouTube, (and a few great instructors),  Keelan Darby, was heading in to the harbour in first place, showing huge improvements in his sailing since the Leinsters. The other Howth crew weren’t far behind him with everyone higher up the leader board than their previous event, and most importantly, everyone smiling.
Day 2: A bigger swell and heavier breeze brought a fresh challenge to the sailors, with many becoming all too familiar with the dreaded ‘nose dive’.  After a long two days sailing, Howth claimed first under 11, (Keelan), with most improved going to Katie Fanning.  The regatta fleet head coach mentioned that she had come on leaps and bounds since her first event last year. 
Junior fleet:
The junior fleet was heavily dominated by three sailors, all three of which are from HYC! 
Des Turvey, Cillian Twomey and William Walsh were consistently battling it out between each other, often leaving the rest of the fleet chasing their wake.
Howth also dominated the junior fleet (silver) with Daire O’Neil and Ciara McMahon fighting some NYC sailors for the win.
Our other four sailors in the junior fleet were Hannah Scott, Sarah Scott, Steve O’Connor and Hannah Walsh, all of which were very new to the main fleet and had a considerable challenge ahead of them, due to the competitive nature.
Day 1: As predicted ashore, there was a strong ebb tide going from right to left across the course. This, combined with the wind backing left all day, meant sailors were overlaying the port lay-line in one tack from the pin end.  In fact, just sailing the rum line was the best option the entire way around the course.
Cillian, Des and William took advantage of this, and finished the race in first, second and third respectively. Sarah Scott also benefited from the unusual course, scoring a 6th; her best race in the main fleet thus far. The rest of the day was much of the same, albeit without the massive course bias. Heading home after day 1 it was 1,2,3 HYC with Des holding the yellow jersey.
Day 2: From the coaches perspective, day 2 was one of those days when you wished they could just give everyone 1st, as with 3 Howth sailors in the running, it was certain some people were going to be upset.  However, such is sport, and there must be a winner. Des started race 4 just the way he needed to, first off the line and a consistent upwind he was first at the top mark, Cillian and William chasing just behind him. Daire and Ciara were close behind with the rest of the fleet. Heading into the next race, it was up to either Cillian or William take down Des. Leinster Champion, Cillian, started well and got himself into a good position on the final downwind, but an unlucky mistake with the gate mark cost him the race and Des sailed across the line in first, winning the event before race 6 had even begun. 
It finished 1st Des Turvey, 2nd William Walsh, 3rd Cillian Twomey, 7th Ciara McMahon (2nd Silver), 9th Daire O’Neil (3rd Silver), 24th Sarah Scott, 27th Steve Gannon O’Connor and 32nd Hannah Walsh. Sadly Hannah Scott received a bang to the head before the first race and was unable to sail for the rest of the event.
Senior Fleet:
The top tear of Irish Optimist sailing is no stranger to Howth sailors and this event was no different with 6 sailors representing HYC in Waterford. 
Day 1: In similar fashion the senior fleet was heavily dominated by just a few sailors, both of which were fresh from the World Championships in Antigua. 
HYC sailor Luke Turvey sailed a consistent day lying in 2nd at the end of it.  Sorcha Gannon O’Conner had a good day, finishing as second girl in the fleet. Unluckily for Johnny Flynn, he was caught on the wrong side of the U flag and ended up a bit further back in the fleet than usual. Evan Darby sailed a great 2nd race (6th), with training partners Fiachra Farrelly and Charlie Keeting chasing behind. 
Day 2: Luke started the day well with a 1st, putting early pressure on Cork sailor James Mathews. In the end the Corkonian took 1st in race 5 and 6 taking the overall win in the Munster Championships. Luke followed directly behind in 2nd. Another great day left Sorcha finished up in 6th overall and 2nd girl. Johnny 14th and Evan was left in 16th, with Fiachra and Charlie in 22nd and 26th respectively. 
Overall, it was an excellent event for Howth and all the sailors. Well done to WHSC for keeping everything smooth and safe, despite the challenging conditions. 
The next event will be the Irish Optimist Nationals here at home in HYC, 15-18 August.
Thanks to Richard Hogan (team coach) for this report