by Richard Crockett
A star-studded fleet of 301 competitors from 25 countries will begin competition on Dublin Bay tomorrow, Saturday 8 September, with Olympians, multiple world champions and local talent set to contest the seven-day event that is co-hosted by the Royal St. George YC and National YC.
The field of men and women is spread across five divisions plus Standard and Radial rigs and is grouped by age ranges:
• Apprentice age 35 and over;
• Master age 45 and over;
• Grand-Master age 55 and over;
• Great Grand-master age 65 and over;
• Legend age 75 and over.
Sailing under the RSA flag are:
Campbell Alexander – Standard Laser – Grand Master
Lance Burger – Standard Laser – Grand Master
Alan Keen – Standard Laser – Great Grand Master
Ken Holiday – Laser Radial – in the 75+ age group
There is always very keen competition amongst this bunch of ‘Japies’ – especially between Alexander and Burger – so watch this space. Alan Keen is a past podium finisher – so all local yachties will be rooting for him to be back on that podium again – especially the top step.
Australian Brett Bayer, an Olympic coach and multiple past winner will defend his 2017 title in the Masters division where some of the most intense racing is expected.
In the Grand Masters event, Britain’s Tim Law is on form along with Canada’s Andy Roy, the North American class President.
Ireland’s 1996 Olympian, Mark Lyttle, will also be competing, fresh from placing third overall at the Irish championships two weeks ago in addition to his recent British Masters title win in June. Lyttle is racing under his adoptive GBR colours and along with Sean Craig and Shirley Gilmore of the co-hosting Royal St. George Yacht Club, the trio is expected to lead the local interest for the championships.
Amongst the Great Grand Masters, two-times Australian Olympian Mark Bethwaite will be racing and aiming to better his 2017 result when he missed out on first place by a single point.
In the Radial Masters fleet, New Zealand’s Scott Leith is a six-times World Champion and must be a favourite for 2018.
After Saturday’s practice race and opening ceremony, racing begins in earnest on Sunday afternoon with a continuous fleet series concluding on Saturday 15th September.