Two Mayo students have earned the prestige of representing Ireland at the Student Yachting World Cup in La Rochelle, France from October 27 to November 3. David Fitzgerald and Ellen Cahill, who are both from Westport, are members of the 10 strong UCD team that earned the right to represent Ireland having won the Irish Student Yachting National Championships in Dun Laoghaire in March.
The highly experienced duo between them share a wealth of skills and knowledge. Team bowman David is currently completing a masters in the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate School, having completed his civil engineering degree in NUIG, while in NUIG David was president of the sailing club having begun sailing from a young age in Mayo Sailing Club, competing at both a national and international level. Earlier this summer he won the Round Ireland Yacht Race, Class 2, with fellow NUI Galway students on a Relflex 38. David has also been heavily involved in the Irish university team racing circuit which resulted in a bronze at this year’s national championships.
Not to be outdone by her teammate, Ellen Cahill, who is studying biomedical engineering, has also competed both nationally and internationally. Ellen has been sailing from a very young age on the west and east coasts of Ireland. She has sailed a variety of different, boats both dinghies and yachts, and has also completed a transatlantic crossing. Having spent the past 18 months in California studying at the University of California, San Diego, she regularly competed in both team racing and yacht racing which she continues now that she has returned to UCD.
The team is under the instruction of coaches Nicholas O’Leary, brother of Olympian Peter O’Leary and past Student Yachting World Cup competitors John Downey and Marty O’Leary, the team hope to ensure their best chances of bringing home the gold to Ireland, something which has not been repeated since 2008.