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Olympians to compete in sailing's 75th Champions' Cup

by Treasa Cox 3 Oct 11:31 BST 8-9 October 2022
Ger Owens wins 2021 All Ireland Sailing Championship in Crosshaven © David Branigan / Oceansport

2022 marks the 75th anniversary of the Irish Sailing All Irelands or Helmsman's Championship. To mark this, Irish Sailing made two decisions - one was to rename the competition as the Champions' Cup to reflect the more inclusive times we live in, and the second was to update the nomination criteria for better female representation.

The 2022 event takes place at Sutton Dinghy Club, Dublin this weekend, 8th and 9th October.

In the line-up for October's event are Olympians and former Champions' Cup winners Ger Owens (Beijing 2008, Athens 2004) and Peter Kennedy (Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992); Olympic hopeful Aoife Hopkins who has former senior Irish Sailing Team-mate athlete Aisling Keller as crew; Niamh Henry who was shortlisted for the prestigious Irish Sailing Sailor of the Year 2022 as the first female helm champion to win the Irish Team Racing National Championships since 1968; and previous Champions' Cup winners Michael O'Connor with crew Davy Taylor.

A number of changes to this year's milestone anniversary event includes two places for female helms based on finishing results at selected qualifying events, one place for a "host boat" nominee, and a "President's Choice" wildcard nominee.

The Champions' Cup has run every year since 1947 until 2020's historic pause due to covid. One of the most unusual regattas in the world, the Champions' Cup sees sixteen competitors from different classes (or types of boat) compete to find sailing's "champion of champions".

Despite coming from a wide range of one design classes, they race against each other in a boat that is often unknown to many. The 2022 75th anniversary event will be sailed in GP14s.

Once again there's strong representation from Dun Laoghaire's Royal St George Yacht Club with four teams competing. Joining Henry, Owens and O'Connor, is John O'Driscoll with crew Diana Kissane. O'Driscoll represents the Water Wags, the oldest one-design dinghies in the world.

Ones to watch are this year's GP14 national champion Shane MacCarthy and crew Josh Porter, Jane Kearney with husband and crew Ross Kearney, and Ger Owens, as they will all be competing in a boat more familiar to them than others.

Each competitor has been nominated as a result of their achievements and rankings for the year. Once chosen, each competitor selects one crew member. Racing will consist of two "flights" or heats. The top three from each flight go straight into the final. The remaining competitors who placed 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th compete in a two-race qualifier or "repêchage", and the top two then enter the Final also. The final race on Sunday therefore has eight teams competing.

The full list of competitors can be found on the Irish Sailing website, where you can follow results too: www.sailing.ie/Racing/Champions-Cup

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