Three youth members of EABC travelled to the stunning West coast of Scotland for a weekend of lively and competitive team racing at Largs Sailing Club for the rejuvenated Celtic Tri-Nations Cup.
The event was held on 29th/30th January and brought together the best 8 ILCA 6 and 8 Topper sailors from each home country to compete together for the overall team prize. It’s the first time the event has run since 2013 and the intention is that this will be an annual fixture going forward, alternating between the home countries of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The event will serve as a combined training session for the top sailors from each home nation, with races included to constitute the Celtic Cup.
Three of EABC youth members; Ellen Barbour, Matthew McClernon and Tom Coulter were selected by RYANI to compete as part of the 8 strong ILCA6 team from NI.
They set off with RYA coaches Chris Penney and Barry McCartan along with Andrew Baker, RYANI Performance Manager, on Friday morning to the impressive Inverclyde National Sports Training Centre at Largs, where they soon settled in to their rooms, meeting up with fellow competitors from Wales and Scotland.
A busy schedule of events was planned, taking account of the heavy winds which were anticipated with the arrival of Storm Malik and Storm Corrie in quick succession.
Saturday morning saw an early start with gym session before breakfast, followed by a packed programme of workshops, talks and teambuilding activities. Athletes were mixed up across countries and teams, to share experiences and learning with different sailors and coaches.
On Sunday morning there was a flurry of activity with the teams arriving early by coach from Inverclyde Sports Centre to Largs Sailing Club. With everyone keen to get out on the water, boats were swiftly launched to commence racing and on-water coaching. A trapezoid course was set and race one began in light winds from the south. As forecasted, the winds steadily built to around 25kts throughout the morning coupled with significant swell, making for very challenging sailing conditions. Unsurprisingly the high winds produced quite a number of capsizes in the last race.
After four races the decision was taken to finish the event. It was great to see some very strong individual performances in the NI team, particularly with the range of conditions thrown at the sailors.
The team result saw the Celtic Cup being awarded to RYA Scotland Team (52 points), with RYANI coming a close second (57 points), and Wales third (91 points).
According to Andrew Baker, RYANI Performance Manager, “it was a very close fight between Scotland and Northern Ireland. With Scotland’s top two in the ILCA and consistency mid-fleet in the Topper they just managed to pip us. Notable results were Bobby Driscoll (BYC) and Autumn Halliday (BYC) in the Topper, and Tom Coulter (EABC) and Josh McGregor (BYC) in the ILCA. A few black flags and breakages may have come into the mix but show’s we can be competitive. I am sure we can bring the cup home next year.”
Well done to Ellen, Matthew and Tom for their impressive performances representing EABC and Team NI at the Celtic Cup in challenging conditions. Thanks to RYA Scotland for hosting the event which was a great experience for all involved. The event highlighted many development points for the athletes and also let them test their skills mid way through the winter training programme.