Last weekend, Lough Ree Yacht Club hosted young Optimist sailors from clubs all over Ireland for their annual Development Squad training session. The session was led by Head Coach Dara O’Shea from Cork and under the careful guidance of IODAI Training Officer Nick Smith.

This training followed the group meeting at National Training Week at RCYC in October. It brought together 30 sailors aiming to compete in the Junior Main Fleet at regional and national events this year.

For the first time, a Senior Optimist Development Squad was introduced, comprised of a further ten sailors aged 13 and over poised to move into the Senior Main Fleet. To the stunning backdrop of Lough Ree, the Development Squads came together to learn new skills, discuss tactics, and ensure their boats were correctly tuned for the season ahead. But the Ree weekend, now in its third year, is more than Oppies.

This weekend has grown to become a very special time and place for all young sailors and their families, where they get to kick back, meet new friends and catch up with old ones ahead of the season.

The IODAI Under 12’s team, made up of 8 sailors travelling to the UK Nationals in Wales in early August, was also training at Lough Ree this weekend under the tutelage of Coach Adam Walsh from Tipperary. As always, the weekend featured plenty of fun shore-side activities. Kids played rugby on the club's lawn, while parents watched the much anticipated Leinster game and enjoyed an excellent barbecue prepared by club volunteers. A highlight of the weekend was undoubtedly the distribution of the Development Squad and Under 12s team Jackets on Saturday afternoon, which were worn with pride by all.

Sunday offered sunny and light wind conditions, ideal for practising on the lake. The camaraderie extended beyond the water as the young sailors cooled off with swims in the lake after de-rigging their boats. Attendees appreciated the fine weather as they prepared for this weekend’s IODAI Northern Championships at East Antrim Yacht Club. Over 100 boats are expected to compete in sunny conditions, with racing to be overseen by Race Officer Gavin Doig. The Development Squads will meet again for a two-day training session with Coach Thomas Chaix ahead of the IODAI National Championships, which will take place at Howth Yacht Club in August. We are sure they will have lots of fun on the water between now and then.

For more details on upcoming events and Optimist Community news, visit or follow IODAI Ireland on social media.

For further information or imagery, contact:

Laura Greer | | 086 960 5600


Development Squad:

  • Aisling Morrin, Alex Hoban, Amy Russell, Arthur Fegan, Ben Smyth, Brendan Hughes, Caroline Byrne, Cian Farrell, Edward Fitzmaurice, Eabha Brennan-Hobbs, Elena Hoffman, George Creighton, Jack Ryan, Jamie Blennerhassett, Jess Tottenham, Jess Walsh, Joe Kingston, Louis Trickett, Maximilian Millane, Max O’Sullivan, Milo Slattery, Oliver Kenneally, Oscar Rowan, Oran Collins, Rebecca Murdock, Ruairi Slattery, Stephanie Rock, Tristan Bendon, Zoe O’Hare (Felix Crinion not pictured)

Senior Development Squad:

  • Amy Whyte, Chloe Blennerhassett, Ellie Tottenham, Ethan Murphy, Fergus McNamara, Jake Molloy, Lucille Mullett, Michael Malone, Rory Buckley, Síofra Buckley.

Under 12 Squad:

  •  Aurele Dion, Isaac Vaughan, Dylan O'Sullivan, Ollie Ryan, Clara McElligott, Penny Doig, Ava Molloy and Liam Sweeney. (Aisling Cronin not pictured)

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