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The Cool Captain from Carlow is Sailor of the Month, Meanwhile Ainslie is at it Again

4th August 2012
The Cool Captain from Carlow is Sailor of the Month, Meanwhile Ainslie is at it Again

#sailingonsaturday – Captain Cool of Carlow is the Afloat.ie/Irish Independent "Sailor of the Month" for July. Captain Cool is Finn Lynch, winner of the Silver Medal at the Youth Worlds 2012, and he's just sixteen. So maybe it would be more correct to refer to him as Cadet Cool. But as his style of winning - staying mentally calm and finishing in control of the race - is something that many much older sailors could usefully emulate, we'll acclaim him as Captain.

In fact, the entire country, afloat and ashore, could learn from his way of doing things. But how does a young lad from Bennekerry in the depths of north county Carlow come to be setting a national sailing example? Well, his father Aidan (a Dub) acquired a taste for sailing during ten years in Australia. Then back in Ireland his mother Grainne took up a job offer in Carlow, than which there is no lovelier county in Ireland.

The family settled there in Bennekerry, which as Aidan cheerfully admits is the middle of nowhere even by Carlow standards. But as it's in the north of the county, lake sailing at Blessington wasn't so very far away, and the three boys - Ben, Rory and young Finn - were introduced to sailing with the Topper fleet at the hospitable Blessington Sailing Club, where Aidan stood his watch as Honorary Treasurer.

All three emerged as top class sailors, and their Topper skills were soon noticed. Each in turn graduated into sailing the Laser Radial, and that led on to the subtle recruiting moves from Dun Laoghaire. The word is that it was Con Murphy of the National Yacht Club, father of Olympian Annalise, who was the talent scout in this case, and the Bennekerries found themselves sailing with the NYC star junior squad.

Even by those standards, Finn was something special. He'd been racing Toppers since he was eight, he was into Lasers in his teens and earlier, and now at sixteen he's proven world class, with three clear years of international youth sailing in front of him.

At the moment thanks to his Silver Medal, Finn Lynch is sailing in Denmark at a youth elite regatta in Aarhus, then it's on to the Euopean Youth Championship in Belgium at mid-month, and after that......well, after that, Captain Cool goes back to school.

The nail-biting classes are doubling their numbers by the minute as the Annalise Murphy challenge battles on through he sailing Olympics. It's deadline in two days time, with the double points scoring Medal Races bringing it all to a conclusion. For once, Baltimore Regatta on Bank Holiday Monday will have to accommodate itself to a lower slot on the national sailing scale.

Meanwhile in the Finn Class we can enjoy a majestic gladiatorial contest without an excruciating depth of personal involvement, as it's the battle of the Ben of Britain and the Great Dane reaching its conclusion tomorrow.

Ben Ainslie's 2012 Olympics got off to a terrible start with one mediocre performance after another, by his standards anyway, while Jonas Hogh Christensen of Denmark was putting in a showing matched only by Annalise Murphy in the Women's Laser Radials. But by Thursday, Ainslie was making a comeback, having made the throwaway comment that missing out on the Gold wouldn't be a setback, it would be a disaster.

Ben analysts wonder if this means that his contract with the America's Cup 2013 (which he takes up immediately after this Olympiad) is dependent in any way on his performance at Weymouth. Stranger things have happened. Be that as it may, it's battle to the death tomorrow, after less than harmonious scenes yesterday and on Thursday.

Thursday saw the Dane and Dutch helm Pieter-Jan Postma shout to Ainslie that he had hit a mark. He took the penalty turns but afterwards was in a real strunt about the whole business, claiming there had been no contact. When Ainslie has one of his moods, it's awesome, and the Dane in particular was upset.

Then in yesterday's second race, Ainslie was leading with the Dane second approaching the finish. Ainslie slowed back in his classic style to sit on the Dane and allow the Dutchman through to second, with the result of GB first, Netherlands second and Denmark third making it very close indeed for the up-coming medal races. The Dane still narrowly leads on points, but the number crunchers are already working out all the possible permutations which can provide another Ainslie gold.

asgard2nixon

Asgard may have been small for her role as a naional sail training vessel, but she definitely punched above her weight in racing success.

Next week, Erskine Childers' Asgard is put on permanent display in her conserved form in Collins Barracks. John Kearon and his team have done a wonderful job in the painstaking task of saving as much of the original as possible while capturing the spirit of the gallant ketch which Childers sailed to Howth in July 1914.

As one of the finest creations of the Norwegian designer and shipwright Colin Archer, the 1905-built Asgard is of international importance over and above her role in Irish history. But in the midst of all this, let us not forget that between 1969 and 1974 she served as Ireland's first sail training ship. She was too small, she was too old, yet she did her very best, and thanks to the skill of Archer's design, she achieved some notable racing success in her brief sail training career.

During those five years under the command of Eric Healy, more people – including many young trainees – would have sailed on Asgard than in all the rest of her sailing life. It meant a lot to them, it meant a lot for Irish sailing. Forty years on, they will appreciate this new display in Collins Barracks even more than the rest of us. Just the job for a day out on the travel pass. Photos of the restored Asgard at the museum

W M Nixon's sailing column is in the Irish Independent on Saturdays

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