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After 12 races in five days in varying conditions, Sean Donnelly of the National YC and English visitor Max Clapp of the Royal Southern YC wrapped up the senior and junior titles respectively in the Image Skincare Irish Optimist National Championships 2011 at Howth Yacht Club on Saturday (20th August).

Donnelly, who led the senior ranks since the third day, could only be troubled by Sophie Browne going into the last day but the Tralee girl’s yellow flag in the penultimate race effectively extinguished her challenge, despite Donnelly’s second worst result of the series (22nd) in the final race. As it was, he had five points to spare after discards while 3rd placed Adam Hyland (Royal St. George YC) was 20 points adrift of the runner-up Browne. 

The 11th race in the series was won by Kinsale’s Cliodhna Ni Shuilleabhain while the honour of winning the final race went to Peter McCann (RCYC) whose challenge evaporated the previous day with his second yellow flag and an undiscardable 68 points. Seventh overall for the Cork sailor in the 67-boat fleet wasn’t bad considering that handicap.

Irish entries filled the first five places – Douglas Elmes (RCYC) and Sean Waddilove (Skerries SC) were 4th and 5th respectively – with the first visitor being Joseph Burns (Spinnaker SC) in sixth overall.

As if to underline his total dominance of the junior championship, Max Clapp won the 11th race – his sixth bullet – and finished the series with a 6th to take the title by a very comfortable 20 points from fellow Briton Milo Gill-Taylor (Spinnaker SC). 

Another 20 points back in 3rd spot was the first Irish finisher, Howth Yacht Club’s Ewan McMahon who completed a steady string of results by winning the final race, his second bullet of the championship. He had six points to spare over Ronan Cournane (RCYC) who had an impressive second half of the series (two bullets & two seconds) after a very slow start.

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With just two races left in the Image Skincare Irish Optimist Championships at Howth Yacht Club, the status quo remains at the top of both the senior and junior rankings, the results of two races on Friday making no difference to the top three places in each division, although points margins have narrowed in the senior fleet.

Second-placed Peter McCann (RCYC) got off to a perfect start, winning the first race of the day, sailed in a moderate southerly breeze but a second retiral in successive days didn’t help his chances of overhauling leader Sean Donnelly (NYC), although the gap between the two is now down to just two points. For his part, Donnelly recorded a 27th (to be discarded) and a 4th to hold on to his lead, but only by two points.

Tralee’s Sophie Browne is still a serious threat to the other two, and winning the second race of the day has brought her to within four points of the outright lead. Everything hangs on the last day and the final two races but Irish boats filling the top seven places is clearly very satisfying.

If it’s tight at the top of the senior leaderboard, it’s anything but that in the junior ranks with UK Junior Champion Max Clapp (Royal Southern YC) wrapping up the event with his fifth bullet in 10 races. Even if nearest challenger Milo Gill-Taylor (Spinnaker SC) could win the last two races, it won’t be enough.

Ronan Cournane (RCYC) won the ninth race of the championship and notched a 2nd in the next to move up four places in the rankings but Irish hopes of a medal rest with Howth’s Ewan McMahon. He has been in third place from early on in the series and must put in two consistent performances on the final day to prevent Benno Marsteller making it a British 1-2-3 in the Junior Championship.

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Three races in light north-easterly breezes were completed on the third day of the Image Skincare Irish Optimist Championship at Howth and it’s now a case of Irish boats dominating the senior division and British ones to the fore in the junior ranks.

Peter McCann of Royal Cork, leader after the second day, had the ideal start to the third day with a bullet in the sixth race of the series but that was as good as it got for him. A 20th in the next race and then a retiral meant that the National YC’s Sean Donnelly relegated him to 2nd in the overall standings, thanks to three consistent top 10 results which put the Dun Laoghaire sailor five points clear after one discard.

The second and third races of the day were both won by Kinsale helms, firstly Cliodhna Ni Shuilleabhain and then Sean Gambier-Ross. Significantly, one of the pre-event favourites, Sophie Browne of Tralee, has been steadily moving up the results table and now lies 3rd overall, just seven points off the leader with four races to go.

If the Irish are leading the way in the senior division – and the top three are opening up a large gap on the rest of the 67-boat fleet - only one local entry, Howth’s Ewan McMahon (3rd), is preventing a clean sweep of British boats in the top six of the junior division.

Showing the form that won him the UK Junior title, Max Clapp added two more bullets and a 3rd place to cement his spot at the top of the table. Currently discarding a mere 5th place, the Royal Southern YC 12-year old already has a 23-point margin over his nearest rival, Milo Gill-Taylor from Spinnaker SC.

HYC’s McMahon is a further 12 points adrift and needs to stave off the challenge of the UK’s Benno Marsteller if he is to maintain his drive for a podium finish. The first race of the day, though, was won by an Irish entry, Ronan Cournane of Royal Cork.

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After two more races in the Image Skincare sponsored Irish Optimist Championships at Howth, there are new leaders in both fleets, with Peter McCann of Royal Cork YC now heading the senior division and UK Junior Champion Max Clapp of Royal Southern YC taking a commanding lead in the junior ranks.

Douglas Elmes of Royal Cork won the first race of the day ahead of Sean Donnelly of the National YC, who took the honours in the second, but it was the consistent McCann – with a 3rd and 2nd – who jumped to the top of the leaderboard. 

His cause was helped immensely by a poor day for the overnight leader Adam Hyland (Royal St George YC) with a mid-fleet result and a retiral which drops him to 19th overall.

After a slow start on the first day, Ireland’s World Championship representative Sophie Browne from Tralee Bay SC scored a 7th and 3rd to move up to 4th overall, just a few points behind Skerries’ Sean Waddilove.

Max Clapp demonstrated why he was one of the pre-event favourites for the Junior title by recording two bullets, results which leapfrog him to the top of the table with a massive 24 points margin ahead of another British entry, Benno Marstaller of Restronguet SC.

The early series leader, Howth’s Ewan McMahon, slipped up a little with results in double figures yet remains in 3rd place overall after five races and very much in the frame. Welsh entry Huw Edwards from Port Dinorwic made major ground, jumping from 10th after day one to just behind McMahon. 

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With the forecast for day two of the Image Skincare Optimist National Championships casting doubts over action afloat, the Howth YC Race Committee opted to run three races on the opening day instead of two, after which Adam Hyland of the Royal St.George YC and Ewan McMahon of the host club head the Senior and Junior fleets respectively.

Sailed in fresh 15-knot westerly/north-westerly winds, the Championship started its 12-race schedule with a double success for Cork’s Peter McCann in the Senior division but a 12th place in the third race dropped him to second overall. The more consistent Hyland, recording results of 4, 3, 1, moved to the top of the leader-board with a 6-point margin.

In joint third place after three races are British entry Joseph Burns of Spinnaker Sailing Club and the National YC’s Sean Donnelly on 20 points, just six points adrift of the second-placed McCann. Tralee’s Sophie Browne, Ireland’s representative at the forthcoming Worlds in New Zealand, did not have the best of days and is back in 12th spot in the 67-boat fleet.

In the Junior fleet, only one point separates leader Ewan McMahon of Howth from another Spinnaker SC entrant Milo Gill-Taylor, the latter winning the first two races and the local helm taking the third. Two second places to the visitor’s 4th puts McMahon a point to the good. 

The new UK Junior Champion, Max Clapp of Royal Southern YC, lies in third spot and within striking distance of the other two. Three top-8 placings also puts Howth’s Isabelle Delamer into the frame at the head of the large 86-boat fleet.

The Championship has attracted 153 entries with another 46 participating in the ‘Regatta Fleet’ for the newer, less experienced Optimist sailors.

Posted in: Youth Sailing
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