The ILCA Laser 4.7 World Championships are coming to Dun Laoghaire in August. Jointly hosted by the Royal St George and the National Yacht Clubs, this will be the first international youth event to be held since the pandemic started. We caught up with the organizing committee chair Ian Simington to find out more.
Tell us a bit more about the event
‘The ILCA 4.7 Worlds is an under 17 event for boys and girls who typically have been sailing since they were 6 years old, will probably be a member of their national team, and very likely to have the Olympics as their ultimate goal. The committee decided early on to cap the numbers at 240 sailors to comply with social distancing guidelines on outdoor gatherings. The split at the moment is 140 boys and 75 girls in separate fleets’.
Ireland competing at the highest levels
‘Dun Laoghaire has a long history of sailing and a long association with high-performance sailing. For the clubs in Dun Laoghaire, hosting events is a way of building on this history, providing opportunities for young Irish sailors and showcasing what Irish waters have to offer. For Ireland to remain competing at the highest level and providing a pathway for young Irish sailors, it’s important for us to participate on the international scene as a venue. With a larger lens, it brings a bit of excitement to the town and community of Dun Laoghaire to have these events’.
Last chance for many teenagers
‘The impact of Covid has been extremely challenging, to say the least. We didn’t know for the longest time whether we could host an event at all. Uniquely, this is a youth class event with predominantly 16-17-year-old competitors. For them, there is a two-year window in an ILCA 4.7, and having missed all of last year this was their last chance to compete at this level. To cancel the event would mean effectively canceling their entire career in this boat (and potentially losing all these teenagers to other sports or even sport entirely). We’re very cognizant of the fact that sport plays a key role in the health and wellbeing of teenagers, and we wanted to ensure that they had something to work towards after 18 months of lockdown and restrictions.
The things that matter most [for the organization] were the travel restrictions and the public health guidelines with regard to social distancing. We always felt that the actual risks of Covid when running the event would be low as this is an exclusively outdoor activity and these are single-handed boats’.
That could be me
‘My son was 10 when the last big international youth event came to Dun Laoghaire and he volunteered on the slip pulling trolleys. He was part of a whole group of friends who came together and they were so motivated and excited by it that they doubled down in their own sailing careers and he went on to be part of Irish squads and love his sailing. For me, that’s the biggest driver. It’s not the competitors, but the young sailors who are watching and thinking “that could be me’.
Volunteering is the glue that connects people
‘I got into event management when my kids were sailing Optimists. I thought it would be nicer to be involved directly, and as a parent, I enjoyed it a hell of a lot more by being actively involved. You got to know other parents and I enjoy the experience of putting the team together. You get incredible goodwill from volunteers willing to help and for a club, it’s the glue that connects people together. We’ll probably have 100 volunteers at the event – there’s a hell of a lot of work that goes into it. It’s a nice thing to do for the kids.
2021 ILCA 4 (4.7) Youth World Championships
Saturday 7 August 2021 – Saturday 14 August 2021
IRELAND, Dun Laoghaire