"Kinsale's O'Regan will be a future sailing star"
21 April, 2010
"Schull Harbour is an attractive place to sail.
Looked at from the shoreside on Friday, as the sun glistened on the water it was enticing, though there was a blustery wind, underlining the fact that Schull can provide a variety of sailing conditions, both inside and outside the harbour as the wind blows across from Cape and the Gascannane Sound.
I travelled there on Friday to see some of the best of the country’s young sailors in action, sailing individually in Lasers, Toppers and Fevas and as double-handed crew on 420s.
It is this boat that the Kinsale Yacht Club burgee is being carried with increasing success. Two 17 year olds, who have forged a bond between Cork and Dublin are making a bid for international recognition through the Irish Sailing Association’s development of young sailors.
Cian O’Regan comes from Kinsale Yacht Club and sails with Scott Flanigan who is a member of Howth Yacht Club in Dublin. Together they are making an impressive team.
Individually, both are good helms. They joined forces a few months ago, with Scott sailing as crew while Cian helms.
Their target is qualification for the Youth World Championships run by the International Sailing Federation which will be held in Turkey in July.
On Friday, the final day of the ISA Youth Nationals, a qualifying event for national selection, they faced a real challenge, so it was interesting to see how they performed. They had been leading the fleet but came into final day, having lost their placing due to a disqualification on the second last day, which pushed them one point down behind Jane Butler and Jenny Andreasson from the Royal St George Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire.
But on the final day it did not hamper them and they finished the day as ISA 420 Youth National Champions. That type of performance, coming back from adversity, underlines the quality of which champions are made.
They said they are enjoying their sailing together and their next event in the qualification process will be the Mitsubishi Youth Championships, to be held in Dun Laoghaire from May 1-3.
They got together because their joint efforts are well balanced to sail the 420, which is stronger overseas than in Ireland. Because the boat has international competitive recognition it provides an entry opportunity at this level for young Irish sailors.
The Mitsubishi event will have a wider interest for the country’s young sailors this year, bearing in mind the ISAF Youth World Championships will be held in Dun Laoghaire in 2012. Preparatory work is already underway for this world event at which it would be great to see a strong Irish performance.
Cian and Scott, along with six other Irish 420 teams, competed in the British Winter Championships at the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy back in March, to help gain international experience. These championships had a very competitive 55 boat fleet, in which they finished 11th overall, their highest race placing being fourth.
While the 420 dinghy has international recognition and is a good, challenging boat for young sailors, it is not widely used in clubs here.
I talked to Rory Fitzpatrick, the Irish Sailing Association’s Youth and Development Manager, who said there is a relatively small pool of boats from which to work for international selection.
“There is further work to be done on developing the double-handed boat for international recognition.
The single-handed young sailors, such as in the Lasers are going well, but we have to do more work on double-handed boats. There are low numbers in this regard in the clubs. The 420 is not a huge national fleet.”
The development programme for young sailors also places big demands on their parents.
As was evident in Schull on Friday, parents have to transport the boats and the sailors, meeting the costs of accommodation and travel.
It looked like a small army on the move as cars, vans, four-wheel drives towed trailers mounting several boats, heading for home after a week of competition.
Co-operation at club level helps, but parents have to make a big commitment in support of young people who are attempting to make their way in the sport.
“No doubt about it and to make gains at international level, young sailors will have to make a lifestyle choice, to specialise in sailing as their sport. There comes a time when a choice has to be made between sports, such as football, rugby or sailing and so on.
We have lost some potential sailors when they chose otherwise than sailing, but we have held others. That is the way sport is going. Sailing like other sports will have to be a choice.” said Rory Fitzpatrick."
We are indebted to Tom MacSweeney for allowing Kinsale Yacht Club to reproduce his article which appeared in the Evening Echo on Thursday 15th April 2010.
To provide more coverage of sailing and raise awareness of our sport he has begun writing a weekly Sailing column for the Evening Echo which is published on Thursdays and which takes a look at people, clubs, boats, events, behind the coverage of results.
ISA 420 Youth National Champions:
420 UK Winter Championships: