Autumn season brings a conclusion to the main sailing season where dozens of championship events have been decided for 2023.
In a quirk of an already quirky sport in Ireland, overall champions will be decided in the coming weeks for junior and senior classes in unique events that roughly produce an outright winner for the year.
Both the junior and senior classes draw their champions from all coasts of Ireland plus inland waterways but Wicklow is possibly emerging as a front-runner for wins in both events.
As usual, the younger sailors will compete in Schull, west Cork using the locally built dedicated fleet of TR 3.6 team racing dinghies over two days this weekend.
While the Royal St George Yacht Club (RSGYC) will have four sailors competing, several other clubs have two sailors competing, notably Blessington Sailing Club.
This Wicklow venue was the original place where Rio 2016 Olympian Finn Lynch first started sailing as the closest place to Carlow. Though he now declares for the National Yacht Club in Dún Laoghaire, he is never shy about acknowledging his roots there.
Lynch has been nominated to the senior event that will be sailed at Foynes Sailing Club next month.
At the Limerick venue, Lynch will face off triple Olympian Ger Owens, the defending champion from 2022 when he added his name for the third time to the famous silver salver, a feat only previously accomplished by a handful of people.
While many of the sailing household names on the trophy appear twice, Mark Lyttle and Tom Fitzpatrick are the others to appear three times with Nicholas O’Leary the only person to achieve a hat-trick of consecutive wins.
Owens, meanwhile, has changed his long-term allegiance from the RSGYC in Dún Laoghaire to Wicklow Sailing Club and on paper at least, the outcome of a battle between these two front-runners could link the garden county to overall victory.
Except that another quirk of this event comes into play as each year the senior event switches to a different host class.
This year’s event will be sailed in the historic Dublin Bay Mermaid class, a 91-year-old John B Kearney design that races with a crew of three.
Much will come down to boat-handling so Jim Carthy of Rush Sailing Club, the host nomination for the event will surely have an added edge.
Other surprise finalists could be drawn from the team-racing champions in the 18-strong list of finalists such as Trinity’s Helen O’Beirne who won the Colours team racing event or Baltimore Sailing Club’s Johnny Durcan who captained the winning University team racing championship.
ILCA7 national champion Jamie McMahon will be competing raising the prospect of Lynch facing an up-and-coming contender and possible rival in a boat with which neither of them will be familiar.
Meanwhile, this weekend’s junior champions cup can look forward to breezy conditions in the sheltered waters of Schull Harbour.
Irish Sailing Champions Cup 2023 (Senior) at Foynes Sailing Club, October 7th–8th
Helm Club Class Nomination basis:
Ger Owens Wicklow Sailing Club GP14 2022 Champion.
Paul McMahon Howth Yacht Club RS Aero first place at Class National Championships.
Johnny Durcan Baltimore Sailing Club Team Racing Captain of winning team at IUSA Team Racing Championship 2023.
Dave Bailey Bray Sailing Club J24 first place helm at Class National Championships.
Ross Kearney Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club GP14 3rd place at Class National Championships (first place is the 2022 returning Champions’ Cup Champion, second place is also the Squib Class National Champion).
Frank Guy Lough Derg Yacht Club Shannon One Design first place at Class National Championships.
Ross McDonald Howth Yacht Club 1720 first place at Class National Championships.
Fiachra Mc Donnell Royal St. George Yacht Club ILCA 6 second place at Class National Championships.
Andy Verso Greystones Sailing Club Rs400 first place at Class National Championships.
Jamie McMahon Howth Yacht Club ILCA 7 first place at Class National Championships.
Neil Spain Howth Yacht Club ICRA Overall ICRA National Championships Winner.
Niall O’ Brien Flying Fifteens Chonamara Flying Fifteen first place at Class National Championships.
Ruan O’Tiarnaigh Sutton Dinghy Club Squib second place at Class National Championships.
Jim Carthy Rush Sailing Club Mermaid Host Class nominee.
Helen O’Beirne Trinity Sailing Club Team Racing Female Helm, third place at the IUSA. Nationals out of 24 teams and Captain of the Women’s team who won Colours Team Racing Event.
Monica Schaefer Greystones Sailing Club Wayfarer Female Helm, first place at Class National Championships out of seven boats.
Cillian Dickson Lough Ree Yacht Club J24 President’s Choice, winning helm at J24 Europeans and 4th at World Championships.
Finn Lynch National Yacht Club ILCA 7 President’s Choice, for qualifying Ireland for a place at the 2024 Olympics Games in ILCA 7 class.
Irish Sailing Champions Cup 2023 (Junior) at Fastnet Marine & Outdoor Education Centre, September 23rd–24th.
Nominees Name Nominees Club Class Nomination basis:
Tom Driscoll Ballyholme Yacht Club Topper first place at National Championships.
Emily Macafee Ballyholme Yacht Club Topper first place female at National Championships.
Cora Mcnaughton Blessington Sailing Club Intl 420 first place at National Championships.
David Evans Sligo Yacht Club Mirror Highest placed IRL junior at National Championships.
Harry Dunne Howth Yacht Club Optimist first place at National Championships.
Gemma Brady National Yacht Club Optimist second place at National Championships.
Max O’Hare Royal St George Yacht Club Optimist third place at National Championships.
Maximus Cully Blessington Sailing Club GP14 1st U19 at Junior National Championships.
Russell Bolger Royal St George Yacht Club Team Racing Captain of the winning team at the ISTRA Championships 2023.
Ben O’Shaughnessy Royal Cork Yacht Club 29er first place at National Championships.
Lucy Ives Carlingford Sailing Club ILCA 4 first place at National Championships.
Tom Coulter Portrush Yacht Club ILCA 6 first place at National Championships.
Megan O Sullivan Royal Cork Yacht Club ILCA 4 Female Wildcard — 4th overall at National Championships, second female out of 31 IRL boats.
Lily Donagh Royal St George Yacht Club Optimist Female Wildcard — 5th Place at National Championships out of 111 IRL boats.
Lucia Cullen Royal St George Yacht Club 29er President’s Choice — first female European Champion 2023, fourth female Worlds 2023.
Sienna Wright Howth Yacht Club ILCA 6 President’s Choice — seventh overall at National Championships, and first lady in ILCA 6. Silver at U17 Youth Worlds.