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Garrett Leech reports on the inaugural Youth Double Handed Sailing Symposium was held at Lough Ree Yacht Club last weekend.

Just over 60 sailors from all over Ireland descended on the Club Saturday morning for this anticipated event, many not really understanding what lay in store for them but liking the sound of what they had heard! There were 31 boats and the fleets consisted of 420, 29er, Mirror & RS Feva. Event organiser, Garrett Leech had dreamed up the concept during the Summer and it began slowly to take shape. Most Youth fleets have the opportunity to receive coaching, normally the Coach sets out the objectives for the on-the-water activity to the group, it is then executed on the water and there is normally a debrief ashore to discuss how things went.

The Symposium was not supposed to be this, it was conceived firstly to bring together the main double-handed Youth fleets, as a larger sailing family & to promote mutual appreciation of each other’s classes. Single-handed dinghy sailing is relatively safe in Ireland with the Laser & Topper’s, commanding large fleets at events, double handed racing probably needs a bit more attention.

The next objective of the gathering was to try and address the more fundamental issues that arise in competitive racing and then specifically, double handed racing whilst getting the participants to think through the issues. What else could be done but to gather the best Coaches in Ireland to Lough Ree! The inimitable David Harte, late of FMOEC, Schull, immediately bought into the concept and took the lead. As did Graeme Grant, Honorary Irish man, and Life Coach! Graeme travelled from Germany to attend. Olympic Sailor, Robert Dickson who arrived in from Marseille on the Friday evening, travelled down, joined by Cara McDowell (Malahide Yacht Club) who is well known for her dedication in promoting/coaching double handed racing, in particular, the 420 fleet.

Ceremonies were opened by means of “Ice Breaker’s” developed by Graeme & Cara which sought to break down barriers between the diverse fleets, ages & geographic dispersion. Graeme’s enthusiasm in particular, was enough to melt icecaps! By the time proceedings kicked off, there was a relaxed atmosphere. The modules that David Harte had prepared got the kids thinking, interaction was encouraged and there were break out groups where crews discussed issues such as improving communications & how to set realistic goals for themselves, facilitated by the Coaches. The classroom-based modules included (amongst others) the following:

  • Setting Individual Goals & Objectives
  • The Importance of Self Coaching
  • Partnership & Good Communication
  •  How to “Iron out issues”
  •  Learning to Lose, Learning to Win

Robert Dickson spoke at length about his “Journey” to becoming an Olympic Skiff Sailor with Sean. He connected well with the kids and they waited on his every word, from Rob & Sean’s many early defeats to winning the Youth Championships in 2018 and of course, the Tokyo Olympics. Many were unaware that Rob had learned to sail at Lough Ree Yacht Club. His talk neatly led into the “Learning to Lose, Learning to Win” presentation. You would have been forgiven if you thought you had walked in on an IMI Programme for kids, lots of life skills!

The on-the-water activity was also with a difference, first thing was to practice what the kids had learned in the “Importance of Self Coaching”. Then David & the Coaches had the Sailors swapping positions (Helm/Crew), so as appreciate the difference in their roles but also swapping fleets where 420 Sailors quickly learned to appreciate the importance of balance/trim! And 29er Sailors to cope with the array of strings & a symmetrical spinnaker!

The weekend culminated on Sunday with racing but of course nothing ordinary! David Harte ran two races under Average Lap Time (Portsmouth Yardstick), 30 boats off the same start line and sailing around a square directly outside the Club House! It was exciting to watch and no boats were damaged in the making of the movie! Thankfully, the wind was light (though the 29er Sailors might not have agreed!) and the overall victory went to 420 Sailors, Alex Leech & Conor Paul of Lough Ree Yacht Club.

A big thanks to the Coaches; Dave Harte, Graeme Grant, Rob Dickson & Cara McDowell. The experience that Dave & Graeme (in particular) brought to the weekend was fantastic, these guys are a lot more than sailing coaches.

The feedback from the event was very positive, it is likely that the event will be run again next year.

Published in Youth Sailing
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Ireland's Mirror dinghy fleet had their Western Championships this weekend at Galway Bay Sailing Club last weekend.

A fleet of 24 took to Galway Bay for 6 races over the two days under Race Officer Dave Vinnell in challenging light winds on the Saturday with a nice sea breeze filling in on the Sunday - both days sailed in very high temperatures.

The event also saw many new faces with clubs putting in tremendous logistical arrangements to make it a bumper fleet.

The overall championship winners were Thomas & Ben Chaix of Tralee Bay Sailing Club.

Mirror dinghy competitors at Galway Bay Sailing ClubMirror dinghy competitors at Galway Bay Sailing Club

Silver fleet winners were Matthew Turner & Donncha Dullea of LRYC with 2nd and 3rd placings going to Blessington sailors Alexander Fought & Zoe Hemsing and Lisa & Annika Flynn respectively.

Bronze fleet winners were Lucas Flynn & Adam Stanley of BSC. Second was Conal MacThreinfhir & William Walsh of TBSC with third going to Cora McNaughton & Sinead Evans of BSC.

Youth winners of the inaugural Killinure Cup and 2nd overall was Eoghan Duffy LRYC & Cathal Langan CYBC with third place going to Jessica & Mark Greer of Sligo Yacht Club.

The next event is the Nationals in Sligo Yacht Club on Aug 20-22.

Published in Mirror
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Last weekend saw two great days of sailing at Blessington Sailing Club for the Mirror Eastern Championships 2021.

Thomas & Ben Chaix of Tralee Bay Sailing Club were overall championship winners. Jessica & Mark Greer of Sligo Yacht Club were the U19 winners.

In third place was David Evans & Leo O'Doherty also of SYC.

Silver fleet placings were 1st Jack McNaughton & Eoin Anglim of Blessington Sailing Club, 2nd Max Cully & Paddy McNaughton of BSC and 3rd Lisa Flynn & Savannagh Lloyd also of BSC.

The Mirror fleet racing on Blessington LakeThe Mirror fleet racing on Blessington Lake

Renaissance Thomas and Ben Chaix in the lead of the Mirror EasternsRenaissance - Thomas and Ben Chaix in the lead of the Mirror Easterns

Bronze fleet winners were Alexander Fought & Zoe Hemsing of BSC. In 2nd was Lucas Flynn & Adam Stanley of BSC with 3rd place going to Cora McNaughton & Saoirse Lawley of BSC.

Next up is the Mirror Western Championships on July 24/25 at Galway Bay Sailing Club.

Mirror Easterns 2021 resultsMirror Easterns 2021 results

Published in Mirror
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This weekend saw the much-anticipated return to racing for two youth sailing fleets; the Mirror & 420 fleets. This joint event held at Lough Ree Yacht Club, was a Mirror Regional Championship and a 420 "Warm Up" Regatta.

The first 420 Regional is scheduled for the 26th & 27th of this month at Waterford Harbour Sailing Club, giving time for the Leaving Cert Sailors.

Nineteen boats competed, ten Mirrors and nine 420's and the conditions were sublime! Breeze on Saturday was fresh at times, enabling the 420's planing upwind. Lake sailing without sea swell offers dinghy Sailors a different experience however, when light conditions prevail, local knowledge can be useful! Race Officer Garrett Leech got 6 races in over the course of the weekend.

The start of a Lough Ree Yacht Club Mirror dinghy raceThe start of a Lough Ree Yacht Club Mirror dinghy race

In the Mirror Fleet, the Championship was dominated by Sligo Sister & Brother team, Jessica & Mark Greer who got bullets in 5 out of the 6 races. Second place overall again went to Sligo Sailors, Mia Canham & William Draper, and third overall went to Blessington Sailors; Jack McNaughton & Saoirse Lawley. A big shout out to local sailors (and first time racing!); Mathew Turner & Donnacha Dullea, who finished fourth overall and first in Bronze Fleet.

In the 420s, the "Warm Up" regatta was dominated by Jack McDowell (Malahide Yacht Club) & Harry Thompson (Wexford Harbour Boat & Tennis Club), who like their Mirror counterparts, won 5 bullets out of the 6 races. Second & third places overall went to local duo's; Eoghan Duffy & Luke Johnston and Alex Leech & Conor Paul, respectively.

Two of the competing 420 Teams will be travelling to Yacht Club San Remo in Italy for the 420 World Championship, which starts at the beginning of July and runs for almost two weeks. These teams are McDowell/Thompson & Hauer/Micka.

Mirror and 420 results from Lough Ree Yacht Club

Published in Youth Sailing
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Brian Osborne last sailed a dinghy in 1989 on the River Thames near Hampton Court so returning to a small boat this season on Lough Erne was something of a revisit for him.

Brian bought a classic 1973 Mirror dinghy recently in Donaghadee, only to find that its original home had been on Lower Lough Erne at Castle Archdale on the opposite shore to Tully Bay where he keeps the Mirror now.

Perhaps this is the start of a trend in County Fermanagh for giving old boats a second chance as Jonny Clements has done with his Ulster Boat as reported on 8th September. With the encouragement of seasoned sailor Fred Ternan – who had also helped Jonny to get afloat, it took Brian little time to regain his confidence.

A light north-westerly breeze on Tully Bay offered an ideal opportunity to try out (initially without the jib), manoeuvres which Brian thought he had forgotten but as he says "Once you learn how to sail, you never lose the feeling of being at one with your boat - you have to feel the wind through the sail and act accordingly. I shall continue to sail at every opportunity".

The Mirror dinghy was born in 1963 when the Daily Mirror newspaper signed up TV DIY expert Barry Bucknell and designer Jack Holt to revolutionise small boat ownership. They came up with a craft that cost £63 11s – or £63.55 in decimal money – and could be built at home using copper wire stitching and glue. At just under 10ft she was big enough for two adults and a couple of kids to sail yet small enough to fit on top of a family car.

Double Olympic silver medallist and round-the-world yachtsman Ian Walker, 42, said he owed his career to the boat.

The Mirror is not new to Lough Erne. There was a fleet in the 1980s at Lough Erne YC on the eastern shore of Lower Lough Erne at Goblusk. Racing was enjoyed by both adults and children alike in superb family competition. Some members ventured farther afield. Michael Clarke's family Mirror, built in 1966, travelled round Ireland on the top of a VW camper van in 1976 as well as enjoying extensive cruising on Lough Erne and subsequently under new ownership, was cruised by a young family on the Upper Bann and Lough Neagh.

Asked if he would be competing in the Mirror Worlds which are planned, after a gap of 34 years, for Sligo Yacht Club at Rosses Point next year he said. "I'll be there but as a supporter. I really don't have any intention of racing, just enjoying pottering about the Lough". The event on the Club's 200th Anniversary will run from 2 – 8 August preceded on 30 July – 1 August by the Irish Nationals. It was last held there in 1987.

Published in Mirror
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With the Mirror Worlds 2021 scheduled for Sligo YC at Rosses Point, there was an extra edge to the weekend's two-day Mirror Nationals 2020 on the race area under the unmistakable profile of Ben Bulben. And though the fleet size of 25 boats reflected the current constraining effects of the national pandemic situation, it was a quality lineup throughout, with every sail number above 60,000 mark, and most of them topping 70.000.

That said, classic wooden Mirrors kept up their end of the show very well, but the overall winner – Caolan Croasdell's The Priest, no. 70696 from Lough Ree YC – was very much state-of-the-art minimum-weight GRP hull. But for those thinking of heading the same way, the word is that in this evergreen class, the demand for similar boats is currently outstripping the available supply.

With light to very light airs mostly from the east and southeast forecast, it wasn't looking too hopeful as Race Officer Con Murphy – making a proper expedition of it with the famous Murphy-Mac Aleavey camper-van as his personal base in the Northwest – set up the first race in a light sou'easter on the Saturday morning. But he was properly impressed by how these vintage versatile boats come very much to life as the wind pushes above 5 knots, and they got in two good contests on the Saturday before it fell flat with Races 4 & 5 going west through loss of wind.

Mirror dinghy racing in Sligo BayA chance to enjoy the view – Saturday afternoon's calm put paid to Race 3 & 4 but offered every opportunity to admire the view of Ben Bulben. Photo: Con Murphy

The fleet came from just three Mirror strongholds – Sligo itself, Lough Ree Yacht Club, and Blessington Lake in West Wicklow – and it was Sarah White and Cathal Langan of the host club who won the first race from Lough Ree's Conor Paul and Leo O'Doherty, with Croasdell – crewed by Fiona Drayne – putting down a marker with a useful third.

The Lough Ree determination was then clearly made as Croasdell and Drayne won Saturday's other race before the wind shut down to afford the crews time to enjoy the view. Second this time had gone to previous winner White and Langan, while a new duo came into the frame with Sligo's Isaac Marsden and Ronan O'Connor in third.

Sunday brought a more lively easterly wind, 8 to 10 knots and sometimes even better, with four races being put through in crisp style. New names came to the fore at the front of the frame in Race 5 (third race completed) with the win taken by Caroline & Lucy Coulter (Sligo) of the Bronze fleet, but Golds were there too with Croasdell second, and Sligo's David Evans and Jack Draper third.

Mirror dinghy racing in Sligo BayWhat a difference a day makes – the Mirrors proved that a breeze of 8 – 10 knots plus is all they need for really good racing. Photo: Con Murphy

The Coulter crew were on a roll, bringing joy to Bronze level sailors everywhere, as they also won the fourth contest - in fact, it was Sligo all the way for the first five places, second going to Sarah White and Cathal Mangan, while Jessica and Mark Greer were third, while the best of the Lough Ree squad were Chloe & Fionn Murphy at sixth, with Croasdell taking the 8th for what he hoped would be his discard.

It was. Although Race 7 (5th completed) saw the Greers from Sligo improve on their previous third to take the win, with second being the Murphys and third Evan & Draper, Croasdell was back in the hunt with a useful fourth, and thus everything hung on the final race and the relative positions of Caolan "The Hat" Croasdale for Lough Ree and Sarah White for Sligo.

"The Hat" was soon firmly in place. He managed a first while somehow Sarah White and Cathal Langan found themselves back in sixth, second in the final race going to the Murphys while Evans and Draper were third.

Thus the overall picture was still close enough, with Croasdell and Drayne just two points clear of White and Langan, while Caroline & Lucy Coulter struck a mighty blow for Bronzers with third overall, just six points further down the line.

Mirror dinghy racing in Sligo Bay Wood versus glass – Chloe Murphy and Caolan Croasdell drawing the battle lines.

In the overall picture, it was Lough Ree or Sligo all way down to tenth place, where Blessington's Max Cully and Lucas Flynn with no. 70026 (called Womaniser for reasons best known to themselves) put down a marker for the hill folk of Leinster.

Irish Mirror Nationals 2020 Results:

1st The Priest (Caolan Croasdell & Fiona Drayne, Lough Ree YC) 3,1,2,(8),4,1:19pts; 2nd A Close Shave (Sarah White & Cathal Mangan, Sligo YC) 1,2,4,2, (6),6:21pts; 3rd 70837 (Caroline & Lucy Coulter, SYC) 4, (26 OCS), 1,1,5,10:27pts; 4th Red Hot (Chloe & Fionn Murphy, LRYC, (7),5,7,6,2,2, 29pts; 5th Blue Away (David Evans & Jack Draper, SYC) 11,(26 dsq),3,4,3,3, 30pts

With it all done and dusted, the Race Officer's Command HQ wagon headed for the hills. "Staycation" is very much the theme for serial race officer Con Murphy as he fitted the Sligo Mirrors Nationals into two weeks vacation with a spot of lateral thinking about how best to use the Murphy–Mac Aleavey camper-van while still slotting in Race Officering duties.

Thus's final Mirror Nats 2020 de-briefing was received at a reasonable hour this morning from a choice and secret spot in the Curlew Mountains. We could smell the coffee and hear the very rural bird-song. A neat and peaceful contrast to brisk and salty Rosses Point.

the foothills of the Curlew MountainsRace Officer De-compression Centre – among the foothills of the Curlew Mountains.

Published in Mirror
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Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club recently played hosts to the Mirror Fleet for their 2019 National Championships. Three fabulous days of close racing were held in varied conditions with the event going down to the wire on the last day.

With 5 race wins from the 10 race series, Eoghan Duffy (LRYC) & Cathal Langan (CYBC) came out on top and overall winners.

2nd place went to Conor Paul (LRYC) sailing with Leo O’Doherty (SYC) and 3rd overall was Lughaidh Croasdell & Sonny Drummond from LRYC.

Silver Fleet winners were Mathew Fallon & Jonathan Flannery of LRYC. 2nd in Silver was Isaac Marsden & Ronan O’Connor of SYC with 3rd in Silver going to David Flannery & Eva Fallon of LRYC.

Bronze Fleet winners were Mia Canham & William Draper of SYC. 2nd in Bronze was Max Cully & Donal O’Donnell of BSC with 3rd place going to Jenny Paul & Abigail Johnston of LRYC.

A special thanks to Aidan Cronin, Commodore of CYBC and his brilliant team for a fantastic event both on and off the water and to Race Officer, Ian Sargent.

Next up is the last event of the season, the Southern Championship to be held in RCYC on Sept 14/15 as part of Dinghy Fest.

Published in Mirror
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Blessington Sailing Club on the shores of the beautiful Pollaphuca Reservoir was the host venue to the Mirror Eastern Championships at the weekend.

Six races were held in very difficult conditions for both race management and sailors with 40-degree wind shifts occurring all day Saturday to strong winds on the Sunday.

Eoghan Duffy (LRYC) & Cathal Langan (CYBC/SDC) were crowned winners with a consistent display of results over the weekend.

In second place was Jessica & Mark Greer of Sligo Yacht Club with third place also going to the Sligo pairing of David Evans & Ross Clarke.

Silver fleet winners were Chloe & Fionn Murphy of LRYC and Bronze fleet winners were Diarmuid & Freyja Mullen, also from Sligo.

Next up on the Mirror calendar is their Nationals to be held on the 16-18 August at Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club.

Published in Mirror
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Sligo Yacht Club provided a range of weather conditions over the weekend for the Mirror Western Championships. 16 boats took part in glorious sunshine and light winds on Saturday which changed to rain and 20 + knots of wind on Sunday. This provided a great display to those watching under the shadow of Benbulben.

Over the two days, the partnership of Duffy (LRYC) & Langan (CYBC/SDC) secured the overall title. Silver Fleet winners were the local SYC pairing of Jessica Greer & Imogen Wray with the LRYC partnership of David Flannery & Eva Fallon winning the Bronze Fleet.

Aisling Gillen, Commodore of SYC and her team put in a great event both on and off the water and a special thanks to event sponsor MalinWaters.

Over the weekend the International Mirror Class Flag was presented to Sligo Yacht Club as host club to the Mirror World Championships to be held in 2021.

Published in Mirror
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The first Regional Mirror dinghy event of 2019 took place on Lough Ree at the weekend in glorious sunshine and light winds.

13 Mirrors took to the waters with sailors from Lough Ree Yacht Club, Sligo Yacht Club, Blessington Sailing Club and Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club competing but it was certainly a case of home advantage coming to the fore for the LRYC sailors.

Fresh from their Sydney Mirror Worlds experience, as reported by Afloat here, Eoghan Duffy & Cathal Langan set a blistering pace with 4 race wins to clinch the overall title.

2nd overall went to Lughaidh Croasdell / Sonny Drummond and 3rd to Noah Canham / Mark Greer.

LRYC sailors took home the Silver fleet (Conor Paul / Henrietta Leech) and Bronze fleet (Chloe & Fionn Murphy) winning prizes also.

Next up on the Mirror calendar is the Mirror Westerns Championships in Sligo on the 29/30 June.

Published in Mirror
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