Keeping it in the family

Keeping it in the family

Keeping it in the family at the Irish Sailing All Ireland Championships 2019

One married couple, two father and son teams, and one pair of brothers will all compete at this year’s Irish Sailing All Ireland Championships which take place on 5 & 6 October at the National Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire.

The All Ireland Sailing Championships or “Helmsman’s Championship” has run since 1947 and finds the sailing “champion of champions”. The competitors represent sixteen of the thirty nine Irish Sailing eligible affiliated classes. What makes this competition unique is that all of them will compete against each other in one class.

The 2019 line-up includes several families from around the country – Olympian Cathy MacAleavey will compete with her husband Conn Murphy, a former Olympic coach (both of National YC). They are parents to Annalise Murphy, Ireland’s silver medallist at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. There are two sons competing with their fathers: Rory Fekkes of Carrickfergus Sailing Club with father Paul Fekkes, and Ronan Wallace with father Brendan of Wexford Harbour Boat and Tennis Club. Paddy Dillon (Rush Sailing Club) has chosen his brother Johnny Dillon as crew. Competing against them are last year’s champion of champions Peter Kennedy (Strangford Lough YC), Shane McCarthy, a former GP14 World Champion (Greystones Sailing Club), and David Gorman (National YC) whose daughter Clare Gorman will compete in the Junior All Ireland Sailing Championships.

This year the Championships will be sailed in Flying Fifteens. The Flying Fifteen is a two-person, 20ft keelboat – many of the boats’ owners will have competed in the recent World Championships also hosted by the National Yacht Club.

Each competitor has been nominated by their class as a result of past wins and class rankings. Once chosen, each competitor then selects one crew member. Racing will consist of two “flights” or heats. The top three from each flight go straight into the final. The remaining competitors who placed 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th compete in a 2-race or “repêchage”, and the top two then enter the final also. The final race therefore has eight teams competing.

The Junior Irish Sailing All Ireland Championships will be held the week before, on 28 & 29 September at the Fastnet Marine and Outdoor Education Centre, Schull.

There are six junior girls nominated this year, the highest number seen in a number of years. The last time a girl won the Junior title was Katie Tingle in 2004.

Again, many of the competitors choose family members to crew with them. Clare Gorman sails with brother Conor (National YC); Alana Coakley sails with sister Tara (Royal St George YC); Chris Bateman (Monkstown Bay SC) competes with his younger brother Olin, who at 9 years old is one of the youngest competitors in the history of the competition, and Trevor Bolger with brother Russell (Royal St George YC). 

The full list of competitors can be found on the Irish Sailing website here, where you can track the results too