Ten Irish students from UCD have won the the Student Yachting World Cup in La Rochelle, France.
The Irish crew claimed victory by the largest margin ever recorded by an Irish team competing throughout the 32-year history of the event.
Team Ireland dominated the regatta by consistently scoring podium places in almost all of their 13 races throughout the championship, to finish on a total of 25 points, while their closest rivals Team Canada finished on 37 points.
The regatta, which was held in La Rochelle, France, saw the top 14 teams from around the world compete for six days in wide-ranging sailing conditions and race course formats.
Team Ireland set down a clear marker of their intentions on the first day of the regatta by carding two second places.
Ireland took a little longer to find their groove on the inshore race course; however, carding an eighth place, leaving them in third place overall on the first evening.
From there, the team’s ability and confidence improved as they learned how to sail the boat most effectively in the varying wind and wavy conditions that La Rochelle produced on a daily basis.
Team skipper Aidan McLaverty produced some breathtaking start line manoeuvres when jostling with the other nations, trying to ensure the team started at the most favourable end of the start line on each occasion
Team skipper Aidan McLaverty produced some breathtaking start line manoeuvres when jostling with the other nations, trying to ensure the team started at the most favourable end of the start line on each occasion.
Ireland’s tactician Barry McCartin’s research on wind and tides in La Rochelle paid dividends as he frequently called the best lines and angles to sail the team around the course.
Day two of the regatta brought similar sailing conditions with a short chop and 12 knots of breeze.
Ireland once again carded two second-place finishes and an unfortunate DNF in the inshore race due to a navigational error.
It was at this stage of the regatta that Ireland’s training began to show as sail trimmers Simon Doran and Cathal Leigh-Doyle ensured the team maintained the best boat speed in the fleet.
The regatta brought numerous twists and turns on day three as the team carded a third-place finish followed by two first-place finishes in race numbers eight and nine.
The team utilised their subs tactically by brining on Ben Fusco and Ellen Cahill for the night race.
This six-hour-long race was started at 16:30 and provided a unique tactical challenge to the team, who had to cope with pitch black darkness as they sailed around La Rochelle bay.
The team fought extremely hard in the testing conditions and finished third, only securing their place on the last 20 meters of the race.
Going into the final three days of the regatta, Ireland had the smallest of cushions over second-placed Canada.
Team mast man Theo Murphy and bowman David Fitzgerald excelled in the conditions, and ensured Ireland out manoeuvred the other teams downwind, while Bella Morehead trimmed brilliantly downwind.
Unfortunately, the last two days of the regatta had to be cancelled due to winds gusting 40 knots on the race course.
However, Team Ireland’s lead of 12 points ensured they secured the prestigious trophy and won the regatta.
As a result of their win, Ireland Sailing Team – UCD will return to defend their title next year in France.