Welsh youth and junior sailors claimed the Celtic Cup on home waters at Pwllheli over a weekend of close competition with teams from Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The Celtic Cup, previously known as the Nations Cup and then Tri Nations Cup, is for teams from the RYA Home Countries - each selects six ILCA 6 and six Topper 5.3 sailors to take part and the event rotates annually between each country.
For the 2024 edition it was the turn of RYA Cymru Wales to host, with 42 sailors and coaches staying at Plas Menai and racing at Pwllheli over the weekend of 3-4 February.
Sarah McGovern, RYA Cymru Wales Performance Manager, said: “The aim was to train and race against the top sailors from the other Home Countries, try some different race formats, work with some new coaches and make friends who they will see on the UK circuit.”
The forecast for the Saturday was breezy but with a westerly direction there was an ideal 10-15 knots in Cardigan Bay. Sailors had an hour of training in their classes followed by two races on trapezoid courses and two SailGP-style races, which challenged the competitors with reaching starts and different mark roundings.
The overnight leaders in each class were both from Scotland, with Roo Purves winning the ILCA 6 fleet and Emily Shearer the Topper 5.3s. The team points meanwhile saw Northern Ireland ahead overall with 73 points, Scotland in second on 85 points and Wales with 91 points.
The sailors were bussed back to Plas Menai for the Saturday evening and kept busy with indoor climbing and a water polo tournament, which Team Wales dominated with some splendid skills from the Topper sailors!
Sunday saw a south-westerly breeze kick in with 15-25 knots and BIG waves. This made it too tricky to try new formats and two trapezoid races kept the sailors in their comfort zone.
Roo Purves from Scotland consolidated his lead in the ILCA 6s but the big winds did enable the Welsh Topper sailors to come into their own.
Jasper Focardi Dolling claimed the Topper 5.3 fleet win and along with his fellow Welsh squad sailors, the team secured the overall team prize with 81 points, just ahead of Northern Ireland with 82 points with Scotland third on 87 points.
As Sarah summed up: “It was a brilliant weekend with some super close racing. It was great to see the sailors making new friends we look forward to next year’s event been hosted by Northern Ireland.”
Welsh squads and open training now continue for Welsh youth and junior sailors to build skills ahead of the new season and major championships of summer.