After three days of strong winds, the final day of the Zhik Laser National Championships was always forecast for light breeze before strengthening in the afternoon. Race Officer Robin Gray attempted several early starts but the wind kept shifting from side to side and it was early afternoon before things settled down. It meant there was time for only one race as an early time limit jad been agreed so that people could get home.

James Espey again took the lead on the downwind in the Standards and led the way home. Fionn Lyden eventually overtook Finn Lynch in a close battle to take second place and also second place overall. Finn had to settle for third overall though also added 1st Irish Laser Youth to the U19 World title he won two weeks ago. This was James Espey’s fifth Irish National title matching the record of the legendary Bill O’Hara. Bill was also competing here coming 14th (3rd Master), before flying off tomorrow or get ready as Race Officer for the upcoming Volvo Round the World Race. Thomas Chaix was first Master.

In the Radial class, Cian Byrne won the final race from Annalise Murphy and with it second place overall. Annalise won overall (her second Nationals title) and was 1st Lady. Liam Glynn had been leading Cian overall coming into today although only by one point. Unfortunately a bad start and an early yellow flag for body pumping put paid to any chances of Liam catching Cian. Ross O’Sullivan had another consistent day to take 4th overall.

Johnny Durcan continued to show his great form at the top of the Laser 4.7 fleet adding a second to his tally, finishing with only eight net points overall and ten points ahead of his nearest rival Rory Fekkes. Rory Caslin won the final race but this was still only good enough for 3rd overall with Scott Levie in 4th. 

Ron Hutchieson was given a special award at the prize giving for 35 years of continuous service to the Laser class by event organiser Paddy Brow and ILA’s Colin Leonard. Many thanks were given to the Race Officer Robin Gray, safety lead Ruth Mullan and the many volunteers for another great event. 

1st - James Espey, BYC (1),1,1,1,1,1
2nd - Fionn Lyden, Schull SC 2,(6),3,2,3,2
3rd - Finn Lynch (1st Youth), NYC 3,2,(6),3,2,3
4th - Darragh O’Sullivan, KYC 7,5,2,4,4,(8)
5th - Colin Leonard, BYC 4,3,4,6,(8),5

11th Thomas Chaix (1st Master), KYC 12,12,(13),7,13,12

1st - Annalise Murphy (1st Lady), NYC 1,1,1,2,(3),2
2nd - Cian Byrne, RCYC 2,6,6,1,(7),1
3rd - Liam Glynn, BYC (6),4,5,3,2,22
4th - Ross O’Sullivan, KYC (16),5,3,4,4,5
5th - Conor O’Beirne, RSGYC (11),7,2,7,5

1st - Johnny Durcan, RCYC 2,1,1,(13),2,2
2nd - Rory Fekkes, BYC (8),2,4,1,4,7
3rd - Rory Caslin, NYC (9),4,2,4,8,1
4th - Scott Levie, LDYC 1,9,9,11,(40 BFD),3
5th - Conor Sherriff, CSC 5,8,3,15,6,(16)

For full results see

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The three Laser fleets woke up on a beautiful sunny day at Ballyholme Yacht Club knowing that the wind was to fill in over the afternoon but no-one was sure by how much. There is a little tension among the 126 competitors for the first time in a few years but if anyone was ignoring the pressure, it was the incumbent Providence Team IRL sailors James Espey and Annalise Murphy who have won five Nationals between them. 

This summer has new blood on the horizon - Finn Lynch the new U19 Laser Standard World Champion and Seafra Guilfyle who won the Radial Silver medal at the ISAF Youth Worlds earlier in the summer.

Race 1 started with a southerly breeze and relatively flat seas with 16 knots. In the Standard fleet James Espey got off to a slow start rounding the first mark 7th but a left shift on the second beat took him up to first from where he distanced himself from the chasing pack. ISA Development Squad members Fionn Lyden was 2nd with Finn Lynch in 3rd. In the Radials Ballyholme’s Liam Glynn led around the course till the second round until he sailed the wrong course and was passed by the top four. Annalise also got off to a poor first beat in 20th place but she managed to catch up and pass Cork’s Cian Byrne at the final mark.

The conditions worsened considerably for Race 2 gusting up to 25 knots at the finish. Annalise has always excelled in heavier airs and showed the rest of the Radial class the way home from the first mark. Finn Lynch led the Standards for 90% of his race but James Espey passed him up the final beat as the breeze grew. 

The Youth 4.7 fleet managed the conditions commendably with Johnny Durcan from Royal Cork YC winning Race 2 and was second to Lough Derg’s Scott Levie in Race 1. Asked for a comment afterwards Johnny offered that it was “very windy” and was a day to “keep your eyes out of the boat”.

Race Officer Robin Gray decided to postpone the final race until tomorrow with the wind settling over 24 knots. Unfortunately the morning looks like similar conditions with the breeze expected to start to die in the afternoon.

Overall after Day 1:

1. James Espey, BYC/RUYC 1,1 
2. Finn Lynch, NYC 3,2  
3. Colin Leonard, BYC  4,3
4. Fionn Lyden, SSC  2, 6

1. Annalise Murphy, NYC 1,1
2. Seafra Guilfoyle, RCYC  3,2
3. Cian Byrne, RCYC 2,6
4. Tim Brow, BYC 5,3

1. Johnny Durcan, RCYC 2,1
2. Niamh Doran, CSC 3,3
3. Scott Levie, LDYC 1,9

Ballyholme Yacht Club is very grateful to Zhik who are sponsoring the Irish Laser National Championships for the first time. Tested and proven, Zhik gear is the clear winning choice of Olympic and World champions around the world. Fast wetgear products including the revolutionary T2 harness for trapeze sailors, PowerPads for hiking sailors, Superwarm Wetsuits, Microfleece, Hybrid gear and high tech footwear. Gear for dinghy sailing, yachting, paddling, SUP boarding and kite board racing, join the growing league of athletes who are embracing brilliantly waterproof breathable & durable gear in events such as the America’s Cup, Vendée Globe & Sydney to Hobart. Shop direct with Zhik online or find a retailer near you for high performance wetsuits, thermals and much more.

McCready Sailboats are offering a sail for raffle on the Saturday evening of the Championships, and will be on-site during the event. 
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