Optimist National concluded in strong winds and with Howth sailors prevailing

20 August 2019
Optimist National concluded in strong winds and with Howth sailors prevailing
Following some difficulties on the Friday, day 3 afforded all fleets to get out racing. The Junior fleet got 2 races, Regatta fleet 3, and Seniors fleet got 4 races. In blustery conditions the Irish came back to the forefront of the Senior fleet, while the GBR and USA teams continued to perform well at the top of the Junior fleet. It was all to play for at the top of the Regatta fleet. The motherships were busy with retirees. The rescue crew worked hard for their supper, and among the gear failure noted there was a mast broken! 
Elsewhere many of the visiting parents availed of some other activities including a special tour of Howth Hill with Shane's Howth Adventures and some braver souls (including 3 American visitors) accepted an invitation to join a 'full-on' Howth Seventeens' Saturday Race in conditions that the 121 year-old class thrive on.
The movie night and fun for the sailors worked well alongside the ‘surf and turf’ dinner for the adults. The chefs and catering staff must be complimented for a delicious food enjoyed by all. Again it was an early finish, and all were home early to be ready for last day action. 
The senior fleet were sent out first on Sunday morning on their own in a strong breeze, to race and to test the conditions for the younger fleets. This turned out be an inspired call by the race committee as the wind immediately started to build. The seniors then enjoyed a race in exhilarating conditions with capsizes and nosedives aplenty. The cream always rises to the top, and James Dwyer Matthews of RCYC / KYC finished the event in fine style with another bullet. However conditions were deteriorating with gusts in excess of 30 knots, and the decision was rightly taken to bring sailors ashore. 
With the help of this final race win, James Dwyer Matthews emerged as the winner of both the Irish Nationals and Open titles, with Freddie Parkin of USA in second overall. They were followed by Luke Turvey, Rocco Wright and Johnny Flynn - all of HYC. 
With no change in the Juniors, the event was won by Nathan Pine of Team USA. William Walsh of HYC / TBSC / MYC was the deserving winner of the Junior Irish Nationals crown from Des Turvey and Cillian Twomey, both from the host club.
The coached Regatta Fleet was won by Conor Cronin from Malahide. 
A very well attended closing ceremony and prize-giving followed that was enjoyed by all. The host club Howth YC under the leadership of the main event organiser Darren Wright, and aided by a 70+ strong team of volunteers ran a superb event, with the bar raised significantly for RCYC who will host the event as part of their 300 years anniversary celebrations next year. 
The closing ceremony involved the lead sailor from each country sailing ashore with their national flag pinned to their sprit. Ireland was represented by James Dwyer Mathews of the Senior fleet and William Walsh of the Junior fleet. The dressed boats and flares made for a picturesque conclusion to a fabulous event. 
Despite an error in the prize giving sequence, Rocco Wright was later declared the winner of the U13 Trophy and Des Turvey was the winner of the U11 prize. 
The fabulous video work of Paul Michael Ledoux of 1Minute40 (see below) was the highlight of the prize giving and HYC’s Junior fleet sailor Steve Gannon O’Connor was the lucky raffle winner - and took home the FitBit!
4 of the top 10 Irish Senior fleet sailors are HYC members Luke, Rocco, Johnny, and Sorcha (also 2/nd girl)
3 of the top Irish Junior fleet sailors are HYC members, William, Des and Cillian.