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Clear Winner Despite Fog at Optimist European Sailing Championships

19th July 2014

The final race of the Optimist European Sailing Championship had to be cancelled today (19 July) for safety reasons as fog thickened on Dublin Bay. Results from yesterday are thus unchanged.

In the girls’ event Ebru Bolat, sailing for the Royal Romanian Yacht Club, had virtually secured the title yesterday with a superbly sailed second place in the penultimate race and could only have been defeated if her main rival Spain’s Iset Segura (Arenys de Mar) had come in the top two. Third was Swiss lake sailor Martina Müller from Zürich.

The history of Ebru Bolat could be an inspiration to younger sailors disappointed this year. Just two years ago in this event she placed 99th out of 105. She signed up for training courses in Slovenia, the home of the then European girls’ champion, and progressed rapidly to place 10th last year. Since then she has also won a place at the prestigious secondary school attended by her brother who has just competed in the Laser Radial event at the ISAF Youth Worlds.

Boys’ winner Enzo Balanger is from the Cataraibes club on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. His first international experience came from the Semaine Nautique de Schoelcher in nearby Martinique but already at the age of nine he was qualifying to sail in national regattas in metropolitan France. He placed 13th in the 2013 European Championship and will still be eligible to compete next year.

Second was Kasper Nordenram, another lake sailor from Rörviks Sailing Club in central Sweden. Daniel Toh of Singapore took Open Bronze with German Lennart Kuss from the famous Baltic sailing venue of Warnemünde taking the European Bronze medal.

Enzo is the first French winner of this event since 1985 when Maxime Paul, now trimmer on Tour de France à la Voile winner Groupama. Romania has never won a medal before.

Of the Irish, Royal Cork’s James McCann’s 10th place was a tribute to his resilience as he had earlier moved up and down the rankings before this excellent final result. It is certainly one of the best Irish placings in the history of the event. By comparison Séafra Guilfoyle who has just taken Silver at the ISAF Youth Worlds had a best place of 40th in his two Optimist Europeans. In the Silver fleet the best Irish result came from Harry Bell of the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club.

The Irish girls showed good strength in depth, being only one of only three countries to get three sailors into the Gold (top half) fleet. Yesterday Clare Gorman sailed an excellent final race to raise her over-all ranking from 32nd to 23rd. Gemma McDowell of Malahide and Alix Buckley of Skerries retained their placings in this illustrious company. In the Silver fleet Dara Donnelly place 13th.

As the event winds down, Dun Laoghaire and the Royal St. George Yacht Club in particular have confirmed their standing as one of the major regatta venues in the world. Moreover, in a world of growing commercialisation, the success of the event was due entirely to the efforts of the 200 club volunteers.

For event updates and to follow the racing live see:

Photos credit Gareth Craig /


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