IUSA Intervarsities at Lough Key 2019

By Rachel Hinds

Commencing Thursday March 7th to Saturday March 9th, the Irish University Sailing Association Intervarsities were hosted by Trinity College Dublin on Lough Key, Co. Roscommon. With 27 teams taking part, it was one of the largest IUSA events to date. University College Cork was represented in each of the fleets; Gold, Silver and Bronze, by 5 teams.

The year has been a difficult one for team racing due to turbulent wind conditions, with sailing being compromised in all events this year. The most recent event of the season, IUSA Southerns, was hosted by UCC in Bantry and was the only event in the year so far to produce sufficient results; even so, only for the Gold fleet. UCC1 had been Gold fleet winners at that event, making them favourites to win at Lough Key.

Lough Key proved to be a challenging location with the unique aspect of lake sailing as well as the adverse weather experienced over the course of the event. The first gun of sailing scheduled at 8.30am was delayed and later fully postponed due to heavy North Westerly winds gusting up to 28 knots. IUSA officials were forced to cancel sailing, putting pressure on to get Round Robin finished in two days. The remaining two days followed a similar pattern with sailing interrupted throughout the day with strong squalls and heavy winds. Bronze fleet was cancelled early Saturday, and unfortunately not enough races were completed to get results.

UCC’s Gold and Silver teams UCC1, UCC2 and UCC3 sailed very well considering the weather. After being promoted in Bantry, UCC2 suffered a close loss in the Silver Finals on Saturday to UCD3.  Helmed by Eoin Lyden, Jamie Tingle and Eoghan O’Regan they took home 3rd in Silver with crews Maeve O’Sullivan, Diane Macilwraith and Zoe Fennell.

Tensions ran high for UCC1, having won Intervarsities in Kilkee in 2018, the newly co-ordinated team for this season executed a commendable performance. Despite a stellar display throughout the event, a great exhibition of team racing was witnessed from UCCs leading team. The team was helmed by some of the top Youth dinghy racers of their time and with many recent accomplishments at national and international levels; Mark Hassett of Baltimore, Peter McCann and Johnny Durcan both of Crosshaven, with crews Iseult Walsh, Rachel Hinds and Louise LeGrix. The team were undefeated until Gold Finals on Saturday evening. When the wind had died to a light breeze, UCC1 was beaten by UCD1 in an extremely competitive best-of-three, claiming 2nd in Gold Fleet. A stellar year for UCC Sailing brought to a close, with great hope for the following year and for the Student Yacht World Cup at Howth Yacht Club at the end of March.