A teenage sailor who honed her skills in Rathmullan is hoping to flutter past the opposition at the British National Championships.
Olivia Drulard is from Florida but has spent all of her 14 summers in Donegal visiting her grandmother, Glenalla woman Maisie Mortimer.
It was while on holiday in Rathmullan in 2015 that Olivia began taking an interest in sailing. On her return to the United States she joined her local club and two years ago she started racing in Optimist class, an optimist being a small dinghy popular with younger sailors.
From there she climbed through the ranks of the country’s elite Optimist racers until recently when she clinched a coveted spot on Team USA by placing 18th in America at trials in Los Angeles.
This weekend Olivia will compete alongside 400 other sailors from around the world in the 2019 Volvo Gill Optimist British National and Open Championship in Portland, Dorset.
Looking forward to getting out on the water, Olivia said she owes much to Rathmullan Sailing Club where it all began.
“I started sailing at Rathmullan Sailing School four years ago,” said the schoolgirl.
“Then I joined Coral Reef Yacht Club in Miami two years ago where I won multiple regattas. I qualified for Team Trials in Lake Linear, Georgia, then raced in other regattas, staying in the US. This will be my first international regatta and I am very excited. I’m also very proud and honoured to be representing the USA at the British Nationals,” she added.
Olivia’s selection to Team USA comes as Rathmullan Sailing School, a non-profit organisation, celebrates its tenth year of helping young people learn to navigate boats and other sea vessels.
Aengus Kennedy is principal at the sailing school. He said he was hugely proud that one of his students has made it to the international stage.
“Olivia is one of many overseas customers who has come through our sailing courses,” said Aengus.
“She fell for the sport and continued when she got home by joining her local sailing club. Over the last few years she has continued to sail in Rathmullan every year as her family comes to Donegal to holiday here each summer.
“When she started to sail four years ago Rathmullan Sailing School was run by its first home-grown senior instructor, Adam Khavia. Adam was the first senior instructor to learn to sail at Rathmullan and has been followed by one more senior instructor and eight local young dinghy instructors. These are professional qualifications and take many years of courses and practice to achieve. They have led to some of these young folk working as far away as New York and the Mediterranean.
“Currently there are four home-grown instructors being employed by the school to cover this season and we are all very proud to have one of our own students move on to such a high international standard of sailing.”