At the Irish Team Racing Championships 2021, organised by the Royal Cork Yacht Club, the Technological University Dublin won the Championship for the first time.
108 Sailors forming 18 teams vied for the title and trophy of the Irish Team Racing Association, whose history goes back 73 years.
The event attracted a diverse and important range of sailors, including youth teams from the Royal St.George Yacht Club combined with the Royal Irish Yacht Club and the Royal Cork Yacht Club, a full female team (in an event where 50% Of the competitors are female) as well as the recently crowned Laser World Championship silver medalist Finn Lynch and Olympic silver medalist Annalise Murphy.
The event began on Sunday with cold, but otherwise fantastic team racing conditions, shining sunshine and a 6 to 8-knot breeze. Race Officer Ben Fusco, with years of team racing under his belt, laid the S-shaped course just on the banks at Curlane Bank.
The Race Management team were able to complete the HLS league stage, which determined which teams would qualify for the Gold, Silver and Bronze fleets. He then commenced the stage 2 Round Robin, but alas due to the approaching signs of darkness at 16.30 he signalled the end of the day's racing, with 30 races to complete the stage.
Bright and early Sunday morning after a sumptuous dinner provided by the Royal Cork Yacht Club catering team the previous evening, the competitors were keen to take to the water, in the hope of putting their hands on the coveted trophy.
With northwesterly winds over 20 knots, a decision was made to relocate the course to the channel of Curabinny Pier in the expectation to get some shelter that allowed the event to progress.
Race Officer Ben Fusco, with his local knowledge of the tides and winds, managed to lay a course around moorings and boats at anchor. This was a major challenge for the sailors from the previous day. Now they had to contend with an ebbing tide, risk of getting stuck on the mud banks or entangle on moorings. Not a course for the faint-hearted, but the majority prevailed.
Increasing gusts of 20 to 21 knots were hitting the fleets and on a tight short team racing course, which demands brilliant boat handling control from the crews to execute their tactics, the top teams started to come to the top. It took every ounce of a helms ability to navigate the S shape course which saw numerous capsizes.
Unfortunately, as the round-robin was completed the wind turned to a northerly direction, with gusts reaching 25 knots. The Race Management team faced with the increasing risk of damage to the boats made a wise decision to finish racing and not proceed with the knock out stage.
TU Dublin in triumphed in these conditions with an outstanding helm on their team Niamh Henry. Niamh proved to be extremely capable of handling the gusts to navigate the course. She has an inherent instinct for calling the correct team tactics to achieve a team win. A Lady helm on the winning team was in 1968, and now after a 53-year gap, Niamh joins an elite group of Lady Helms in Team Racing.
Winning Team and Irish Team Racing Champions 2021: Technological University Dublin
Helms: Niamh Henry, Dan Little and Glebe Romantchik.
Crews: Max Pocock, Isobel O'Grady and Trudy O'Hare
Event Manager: Tom McGrath
Race Officer: Ben Fusco
Umpires: Cxema Pico, Chris Lindsay, Gordon Davies, Eunice Kennedy, Dave Sheahan, Derek Moynan and Richard McGlade.