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Olympians of the Future Bring Optimism to Galway


July will see one of the largest competitive fleets seen in Galway Bay for many years take to the water for the Connacht Optimist Championships which is being hosted by Galway Bay Sailing Club. Up to 150 boats from all corners of Ireland are expected to descend to allow the nation’s young sailors battle it out in seven different fleets.


The Optimist class originated in the 1940s and is now sailed in over 120 countries across the world. It is by far the most popular class of sailing boat for children aged between eight and thirteen. Despite its somewhat dumpy look, it has proven itself as an excellent boat for generations of children to learn the nuances of competitive racing. Most of Ireland’s sailing Olympians, including Olympic silver medalist Annalise Murphy, learned their trade in the Optimist class. Doubtless, the cream of the gold fleets at this year’s event will have their eye on Olympic qualification in the not-too-distant future.


The competition will cater for a huge range of ages and abilities. There will be a senior fleet for the older children while the younger children in the junior fleet will have a shorter course to negotiate for each race. There will also be a coached Regatta fleet in the more sheltered waters closer to shore for those still learning their trade and working their way up to the main competitive races. Both the senior and junior fleets are separated into gold, silver and bronze groupings, ensuring a broad spectrum of participation and meaningful races across a range of abilities.


The main fleet race area is likely to be west of the Marine Institute and south of Ballyloughane strand near Renmore. Competitors in these fleets will be under the watchful eye of Race Officer John Leech. The Regatta fleet will race inside Rinville point, where Margot Cronin will be in charge of proceedings. An event of this size requires a huge volunteer effort. The competitors are grateful to all the volunteers who will be contributing time, effort and boats to ensuring their safety both on and off the water, with Safety Officer John Collins co-ordinating operations. It’s a testament to the wonderful spirit of co-operation between all the sailing clubs around Galway Bay that they can come together to ensure such a worthwhile event can be hosted in the Bay.


Official race documents will be posted on https://www.racingrulesofsailing.org/documents/4293/event. For more information, please contact rcjy@gbsc.ie or follow the GBSC Facebook page for updates. For those attending the event, there will be space available for camping adjacent to the sailing club. Galway Bay Sailing Club would like to wish all of the competitors fair winds and the very best of luck.

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