Mike O’Donovan, 19, from Stokes Bay Sailing Club, Gosport, sailed his way to the top of the leader board and the title in the national final of the RYA eSailing Spring Class Championship on Saturday, 20 June.
Battling it out against his fellow racers on the virtual waters, Mike, representing the UK Laser Association – Laser Standard class, fought off tough competition from 18 of the best eSailing class racers from around the country in a series of five races, with two discards, to take the crown.
Sailing under the sail name of Déjà vu, Mike sailed home with an impressive tally of first, second and third, enabling him to discard two races with finishes of fourth and eighth.
Commentating on his win Mike said: “It was really tight racing through-out and I’m really happy to win the RYA eSailing Spring Class Championship. I sailed really well through-out the final and was able to get away from the start line into clean air in most of the races – which is really important to get a good start. It all came down to the final race where I had to make some strategic decisions. I changed tactics here as I knew that I had to beat just one other sailor in particular to win, so I followed him closely and still ended up taking third in the final race, which I was really pleased with.”
Mike, will receive an Essential 45L Dry Tube, courtesy of Musto, a dryrobe plus a virtual Q&A session for their class with a member of the British Sailing Team.
Several Hampshire based sailors qualified for the national final. Arthur Farley, from Brading Haven Yacht Club on the Isle of Wight, and representing the UK Laser Association – Laser Radial class, claimed second spot in the final.
Arthur sailed to two first places, along with an eighth, sixth and fifteenth. Commenting on his second place, Arthur said: “I had a great start but after being given a few penalties and a gibe rather than a tack I finished eighth in the first race.” At the end of the race Jack Fenwick, RYA Keelboat Development Manager, asked Arthur if he had any advice for newcomers to eSailing, to which Arthur replied: “Be confident!
Adam McGovern, RYA North West Regional Development Officer and resident eSailing guru said: ‘The final was extremely close and great to watch. Both Mike and Arthur sailed extremely well to win their respective semi-finals and proved yet again in the final that they are fantastic eSailors.’
Mike first discovered eSailing whilst sailing in the virtual Volvo Ocean Race with his dad on the offshore version of the game and have been hooked since. He is currently on a winning streak after recently winning the New York eSailGP Qualifier in the 2020 eSailGP Championship.
Mike is originally from Aberdeen and become a member of Stokes Bay Sailing Club after moving to the South Coast to attend the University of Southampton. A keen laser sailor, Mike competed in the Scottish Winter Nationals, and with his helm won the RS200 Scottish Nationals in 2017. He is now keen to embrace University team racing, along with yacht racing having already taken part in J88 racing during his first year on the South Coast.
To find out more about eSailing, details on how to get started and lots of great videos visit the RYA eSailing hub page – www.rya.org.uk/go/esailing