Laser focus for Listowel's 15-year old sailor, Ellie

Listowel Community news

Ellie in her element.
Ellie in her element.

Kathleen O'Sullivan

Ellie Cunnane began sailing boats when she was eight-years-old and just seven years later, she can tick representing Ireland at a world sailing championship for the first time off her bucket list. Last month, Ellie was the youngest of six who travelled to the 2018 Youth World Championships held in Gdynia, Poland as part of the Irish Sailing Laser 4.7 team.

The Laser boat is in the dinghy class in the Laser series of sailboats. The 15-year-old from Listowel has had a very busy few months training for the competition and it definitely paid off for her. "Normally, I train three times a week, which amounts to four or five hours. I work on fitness, conditioning and of course, my sailing technique. I train in Dingle and I do my winter training in Tralee Bay. "For the championships, I had more intense training and preparation with the team's coach, Debbie Hannah." Ellie was chosen as a member of the Laser 4.7 team after competing successfully at a national level. The youngest on the team,

Ellie said she moved up in levels in sailing very fast while growing up. "I would have started sailing in an optimist like most, but I progressed in boat sizes fairly fast, because I'm tall," she continued. "Poland was incredible, it was a great few days experiencing being in a competitive environment.

"I did well at the championships, I got silver in my heat. But, it was important just to experience it and since I'm so young it was a great opportunity. I will be aiming to make the team again next year, with more hard work!" Ellie's interest in sailing comes from her family, having spent years exposed to boats from her dad and Grandfather.

"My family all love it too. My brothers are also part of the Dingle Sailing Club, Paddy has competed internationally too. "I just really love being in the water." Ellie was also the only team member on the Irish team from a Kerry sailing club. Ellie, who is a student in Tarbert Comprehensive School, will be juggling her studies and sailing as she enters third year this coming term. "I'll have to find the time to fit it all in! I'm not too stressed about the Junior Cert anyway," Ellie laughed.