A local student has won a top international sailing competition, overcoming a field of fellow national champions to take Gold in Bermuda.
Dougie Elmes (14), from Kilkenny City, was already the Irish champion when he raced to victory in the Renaissance Re Junior Gold Cup. Sailing an Optimist, he managed to finish four points clear of his rival Tomas di Luciano of Argentina at the end of the 11-race regatta.
The event, which celebrated its tenth anniversary this year, brings together the best young International Optimist Class sailors from around the world. This year was the first time that Ireland was represented.
“I was a bit nervous, but I was excited as well,” said Dougie, who is in third year at Kilkenny College.
“I was fairly confident. I knew all I had to do was cover [di Luciano], I was six points ahead. I had to finish at least five places behind him or just stay ahead of him.
“We became friends in Bermuda,” he says of his rival.
“He’s 14 as well. I remember on the last day we tried to psych each other out a bit, but it was mostly friendly.”
Dougie flew out to Bermuda for the four-day event with his parents, John and Sheila. He went into the final day of racing in the lead. Conditions out on the water were ideal.
“It wasn’t shifty, which surprised me, because we were inland, there was land all around us,” he said.
“There was a fairly steady wind everyday, heavy breeze to light winds. I prefer light. I’ve worked on a lot of technique in light wind, but I haven’t got as much sailing in heavy as maybe some of the other sailors.”
His name on the perpetual trophy in Hamilton Yacht Club, Dougie is now considering moving to the bigger Laser or 420 as he continues to pursue his passion for the sport. Kilkenny College has had a number of success stories in sailing in recent years, thanks to the collaborative efforts of students, parents and staff.