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Now that the summer sailing season is over, the Irish 420 Class Association has started a programme of winter training sessions with coaching support from the ISA. Local training groups will run in North Dublin, Dun Laoghaire and Crosshaven.

420 sailors are encouraged to participate in club sailing and local regattas whenever and wherever possible and over of them also compete in Regional and National Championships as well as the ISA Youth Nationals. In 2012, a small number of Irish 420 sailors represented the class at ISAF Youth Worlds in Dun Laoghaire, the World Championships in Austria and the Junior European Championships in Italy.

Despite being sometimes branded as an ‘elite boat’, there is plenty of evidence to show that this is not the case. Some of the sailors in the class can be as young as 13 and they compete at a national level in boats that are older than they are. The 420 Class Association website currently has a list of second-hand boats for sail. These range in price from €1500 to €6500 for 2012 boat which has been sailed for 20 days.

The 420 offers youth and smaller adult sailors an opportunity to learn a range of skills, including using spinnakers and trapezes, racing and teamwork with another person in a two-man boat. The Class Association and host clubs work with a team of experienced coaches which includes four Irish Olympic sailors and two professional teachers among their numbers.

An impressive 19 boats attended the first of the sessions which took place in Howth last weekend. Among them, a strong local contingent of nine boats from Skerries, Malahide, Howth, Sutton and Clontarf and 10 visitors from Dun Laoghaire, Wexford, Cork, Tralee and Galway.

Near perfect training conditions were provided on the Saturday with an average 10 knots and sunshine giving plenty of opportunity to learn new skills or develop existing ones under the guidance of the coaching team. 
The coaching team was headed up by Ross Killian, 420 national coach, and assisted by 2012 Olympian Ger Owens, Tomas Mapplebeck and Graeme Grant. 

The sailors enjoyed dinner in the evening giving an opportunity to unwind and have some banter about the day’s activities on the water and to eat some birthday cake.

Sunday saw slightly poorer weather conditions in the morning with rain dying out to very cold conditions but the perfect wind was still there giving two great sessions on the water.

The weekend has provided great support to the growing class of 420s in Howth Yacht Club and the surrounding area. But was also a great indicator to the strength and depth of the class for the upcoming 2013 season.

Special thanks go to all of the sailors without whom the event could not have been the success; to the Irish 420 Class Association and Brian Mc Dowell for the coordination and support before, during and after; to Howth Yacht Club for the use of the facility and access to the fantastic training areas; to Ian Dickson and Malahide Yacht Club for use of the coach boats and finally to the coaches and Des Flood the class captain in Howth. 

For more information on the 420 Class and clubs that host class training see the 420 Class Website www.sail420.com
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