Hampshire Sailor Crowned National RYA eSailing Winter Club Champion

04 Mar 21

Competing against ten other RYA (Royal Yachting Association) eSailing regional and home county champions, O’Donovan, sailing under the sail name of “VIT–Ronstan Déjà Vu”, battled it out against fellow racers on the virtual waters in a live showdown broadcast from the virtual RYA Dinghy Show.

The competitors e-sailed against each other, on the online eSailing platform Vitual Regatta, in a series of six live races with just one discard in a different class of boat in each race, to really test their range of eSailing skills and tactics.

Mike O’Donovan, a 20-year-old aerospace engineering student at the University of Southampton, raced to three firsts, one third, an eighth and a discarded Did Not Finish, to be crowned the 2021 National RYA Winter Club Champion.

Commenting on his win, Mike O’Donovan said: “It was some really great racing and really close all the way through the event, in the Southern Regionals and the Finals. There was stiff competition in both and in the end it came down to just a point between myself and 2nd placed, Cavan Fyans, in the finals. It's really great to see so much competition in eSailing in the UK and hopefully we can carry that competition forward into more events throughout the year.”

As 2020 eSailGP World Champion, O’Donovan is one of the best eSailors in the world. He also medalled with a Bronze in the 2020 eSailing World Championship and led Team GBR to victory in the 2020 eSailing Nations Cup.

Mike O’Donovan made the perfect start to the final, winning race 1 in the 49er boat, an impressive 18 seconds ahead of who would become his main rival in the final, Caven Fyans, the RYA Northern Ireland finalist. Unfortunately, O’Donovan dropped out of race 2 in the Laser class with internet connectivity issues, forcing him to use this race as his discard. Rik Coding “VonPigeon” representing RYA East Region, claimed the victory in this close race with all competitors bar VIT–Ronstan Déjà Vu finishing within 35 seconds of each other.

The pressure was then on for O’Donovan in race 3 in the Nacra boat and proved to be an extremely close race with just 1.3 seconds separating the top three finishes. James Adam “Jester-553” representing Wales, claimed victory, O’Donovan third spot and his main rival Fyans 2nd. Everyone started Race 4, in the Star boat, spread across the starting line completely clean but several penalties soon followed as boats clashed round the windward mark. As Fyans explains: “In the star if you’re not out clear in front its downhill from there to get away.” RYA South West finalist Mike “SoapDish” Way claimed top spot with VIT–Ronstan Déjà Vu finishing way down in 8th and Fyans discarding a 10th.

O’Donovan then returned to his usual winning form claiming top spot in race 5. As Commentator Mark Jardine, Managing Director of yachtsandyachting.com, said: “A great recovery by VIT–Ronstan Déjà Vu after the earlier internet disaster.” Going into the sixth and final race there was just one point between VIT–Ronstan Déjà Vu and Cavan Fyans who was top of the overall leader board. Fyans pushed all the way but couldn’t stop O’Donovan’s winning streak, as he commented at the end of the race: “Mike is a hard man to beat, it’s always a tough competition with him.”

Olympic medallist and Team GB sailor Stu Bithell joined Mark Jardine giving live commentary and added: “We saw some awesome sailing from Mike! Very impressive sailing and what a way to come to come back after the discard earlier in the race, to catch up and keep going until the end. Despite his disconnect he kept plugging away. We see this a lot in real life and it’s fantastic when it all comes good.”

All the finalists will receive a Helly Hansen bag plus an RYA prize bundle, along with the Championship title, for Mike O’Donovan.

A total of 780 sailors, from 71 different clubs from across the RYA regions and the home countries took part in the RYA eSailing Winter Club Championship, competing in club and regional championships, before whittling it down to just 11 finalists.

“Once again the racing has been phenomenal, and the skill and quality of racing in the final is testament to that,” commented RYA Shows and Promotions Manager Celia Edgington. 

“eSailing has really taken over the last year, while we’ve been unable to get out on the water and we’re delighted that so many racers and clubs got involved in the championship, helping not only sailors to continue practicing and honing their race skills, but also as a means of keeping the racing community engaged and in touch with each other.”

To find out more about eSailing or want to pick up some eSailing top tips then visit www.rya.org.uk/go/esailing for more information.

To add onto the website only

Full results:







Stokes Bay Sailing Club

Mike O’Donovan


Northern Ireland

Ballyholme Yacht Club

Cavan Fyans



St Andrews Sailing Club

Paul McCobie


North West

Budworth Sailing Club

Chris Smallwood



Llandegfedd Sailing Club

James Adams


North East

Tynemouth SC

Justin Smith



Woolverstone Project

Rik Codling


South West

Exe Sailing Club

Mike Way


London and South East

Maidenhead Sailing Club

Gary Bullock



Ogston Sailing Club

Wil Hitchman



Royal Air Force Sailing Association

Thomas Goodman