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This week's confirmatory announcement of Sport Ireland High-Performance funding allocation is good news for sailors who have benefited from improved performances and an increase in the amounts awarded to International and World Class level athletes.

Finn Lynch's silver medal at last year's ILCA 7 World Championships has promoted him to the Podium level which awards him €40,000 per annum through to Paris 2024. The 49er pairing of Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove is considered world-class, which brings €25,000 each.

49er duo Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove will receive €25,000 each to Paris 202449er duo Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove will receive €25,000 each per annum to Paris 2024 Photo: Sailing Energy

Seafra Guilfoyle, Johnny Durcan, Aoife Hopkins, Ewan McMahon and Eve McMahon will receive International level funding of €18,000 each.

Sport Ireland High-Performance fundingSport Ireland High-Performance funding for Irish sailors

€3.2m for Irish Sailing

Irish Sailing's high-performance programme funding has increased by €130,000 from €3,070,000 to €3,200,000 which seems positive, but analysis of the funding increases in other sports relegates Sailing to 17th of the 21 sports awarded this funding.

Five sports (Canoeing, Judo, Taekwondo, Gymnastics and Badminton) enjoyed increases of over 100%, while eight further sports received increases of between 20% and 70%.

Irish Sailing's increase of 4%, will actually be a decrease in real terms as increased levels of inflation bite into associated costs.

Sailing, which was the second best-funded Olympic Sport for Tokyo 2020, has now fallen to fifth place in the funding rankings.

John Menton

Sydney Olympic discus thrower John Menton leads the Irish Sailing Olympic Steering Group following the retirement of Patrick Coveney.

In a statement, Irish Sailing said it will 'continue to work closely with Sport Ireland to help meet the challenges of implementing the recommendations from the Tokyo Olympic Report'.

Full Sport Ireland report here and Irish Sailing's commissioned Tokyo Independent External Review review is here

Sport Ireland High-Performance funding

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No Irish representation in the medal races at the Semaine Olympique Francaise (French Olympic Classes Week) in Hyères is a disappointment for Irish Olympic sailing efforts but there is consolation in the two top 15 finishes achieved in what is the second biggest regatta since Tokyo.

Laser/ILCA7

Carlow sailor Finn Lynch finished 13th overall in the ILCA 7 (Laser) after coming fifth in both races yesterday demonstrating he has the speed even if nursing an arm injury, missing the medal race by just 12 points.

His 21-year-old rival for Paris 2024 Ewan McMahon (Howth YC) moved up again in the fleet to finish 23rd overall, a result that confirms he is an exciting prospect and Ireland's second most successful full rig sailor since Mark Lyttle, Ireland's inaugural Laser helmsman at Atlanta 1996. 

The pair are now in preparation for the World Championships, a highlight of the year where Lynch will defend his 2021 silver medal in Mexico in May.

49er

With less wind than on previous days, Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove (Howth YC and Skerries SC) finished in 15th place in the 49er class after the day’s three races. Rivals Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan (Royal Cork YC) finished in 30th place overall.

Full results here

The regatta concludes today Saturday 30 April.

An arm injury that proved no obstacle for Ireland's Finn Lynch when he recorded fourth overall at the first World Cup of the season earlier this month may be the reason behind the National Yacht Club's comparatively lower scores so far at France's massive 53rd Semaine Olympique Française de Hyeres. 

Lynch and Paris 2024 rival Ewan McMahon both made the Gold Fleet yesterday but have a fight for top ten medal race contention to be decided today and tomorrow (Friday) over the next four races on the Cote D'Azur.

Coach Vasilij Zbogar said, "Finn still has some issues with his arm from Palma so let’s see how it goes in the next two days".

Lynch lies in 25th overall in a fleet of 128 after finishing 13 and 2 on Wednesday. Howth Yacht Club's McMahon is in 35 overall after a 6 and 22 placing.

Germany's 2020 World Champion, Philipp Buhl took the lead and a discard advantage after Australia's Olympic champion, Matt Wearn, was UFD in the starting sequence of the second and final race of the day. They will now face each other for the first time in gold fleet, and Wearn cannot afford a slip up with Buhl's consistency in finishing 1, 3, 1, 1, 2, 1 in the six races so far.

Just behind them lies Pavlos Kontides, the first Cypriot to ever win an Olympic medal (silver at London 2012). But his 10th place in the last race also leaves him more vulnerable.

Radial 

Aoife Hopkins in the ILCA 6 (Laser Radial) ended yesterday in 40th place overall and misses out on the Gold Fleet final series of racing.

In contrast to the men's leaderboard, the women's looks wide open after Poland's Agata Barwinska finished 19th in light winds in the second race at the end of the day. Such is the state of the other huge discards in the top 10, that she still leads, just. Belgium's Emma Plaaschaert, 4th at the Tokyo Olympics, lies in second despite being 38th in the final race and Canada's Sarah Douglas, who won in Palma, is 10th after finishing 48th.

49er 

Both Irish 49er teams made the Gold Fleet in their 61-boat fleet.

Tokyo reps Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove (Howth YC and Skerries SC) are in 19th place after an 11 and 3 in the first two races, but were disqualified for being over the starting line in the third race of the day.

New pairing Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan (Royal Cork YC) are in 30th place overall (18, 8, 23 in today’s races).

49erfx

In the 49er FX class, Norway's Helene Noess & Marie Ronningen continue in the overall lead. The Royal Irish's Saskia Tidey of Dun Laoghaire who is competing for Team GB is lying 26th with new partner Freya Black in a fleet of 38.

Full results here

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ILCA7/Laser sailor Finn Lynch is hoping to build on recent top performances such as his silver medal win at last November's World Championships and this month's fourth at the Princesa Sofia Trophy when he races at Hyères in the French Olympic Week regatta starting next Monday (23 April).

As Afloat reported previously, the National Yacht Club solo ace along with other Irish Olympic campaigners have been training close to the Marseille Olympic venue this week and have now moved along the Cote D’Azur to Hyères.

Lynch is building towards the defence of his 2021 World Championships silver medal next month at Riviera Nayarit in Mexico.

Competing against Lynch is Ewan McMahon who, in just his third season as a senior (and in 20th place for most of the week in Palma last month), is already demonstrating why he is arguably Ireland's second most successful full rig sailor since Mark Lyttle, Ireland's inaugural Laser helmsman at Atlanta 1996.  Royal St. George's Tom Higgins is also competing. 

ILCA 6/Laser Radial

In the ILCA 6 (Laser Radial) Howth's Aoife Hopkins returns from a bout of COVID for her first major regatta of the Paris quadrennial. Her clubmate and rival for the single Paris place, Eve McMahon, is currently competing at the Youth Nationals in Ballyholme and does not return to the Olympic circuit until after her Leaving Certificate examination in June. 

Irish 49ers

Tokyo Olympians Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove along with Paris rivals Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan from Royal Cork are competing in the 49er class. 

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The 53rd Semaine Olympique Francaise de Hyères - Toulon Provence Mediterranee, is back from April 23 to 30, 2022 and Irish Olympic campaigners are among the 50 nations competing on the Mediteranean.

Fresh from his fourth overall at Palma earlier this month, the National Yacht Club's Finn Lynch is entered for the French event in the ILCA 7/Laser as is Howth Yacht Club's Aoife Hopkins who has recovered from COVID and competes in the ILCA 6/Radial.

Competing against Lynch is Hopkins' clubmate Ewan McMahon who, in his third season as a senior (and in 20th place for most of the week in Palma), is already demonstrating why he is arguably Ireland's second most successful full rig sailor since Mark Lyttle, Ireland's inaugural Laser helmsman at Atlanta 1996. 

Howth Yacht Club's Aoife HopkinsHowth Yacht Club's Aoife Hopkins

Royal St. George's Tom Higgins is also competing in the ILCA 7. 

Also heading for Hyères are Howth and Skerries duo Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove in the 49er who will be keen to make the medal race after a capsize cost them so dearly in Palma. 

Hoping to close the gap on their rivals for Paris are Royal Cork Yacht Club and Baltimore Sailing Club's new skiff combination Seafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan who raced in the silver fleet in Palma. 

Royal Irish's Saskia Tidey will be sailing with Freya Black for Team GB in the 49erFX.

Once again, the Olympic sailing elite will be in Hyères for one of the most anticipated events of the season. For the first time in France, the SOF will bring together on the Hyères field of play the 10 classes that will be present in Marseille for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Coming from more than 50 countries, the 650 registered competitors, including the world's best Olympic sailors, will make the Hyères event an exceptional edition. After the Trofeo Princess Sofia, at the beginning of April, Hyères will be the second major event on the Olympic calendar.

The 10 Olympic classes: iQFOiL (foil windsurfing, men and women), Kitefoil (foil kiteboarding, men and women), ILCA (solo dinghy, women and men), 49er (double dinghy, men and women), Nacra 17 (double foil catamaran, mixed), 470 (double dinghy, mixed) will compete on the Hyerois field of play, which is as technical as it is tactical and renowned for its often strong easterly winds.

The gold medallists at the Tokyo Olympic Games last summer, who will be competing in Hyères: Australia's Matt Wearn (men's ILCA), Italy's Ruggero Tita & Caterina Banti (Nacra 17, mixed), Brazil's Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (women's 49er), Britain's Eilidh McIntyre, with new partner Martin Wringley (470 double dinghy, mixed).

For France, the world champions of iQFOiL, Helène Noesmoen and Nicolas Goyard will be competing in women's and men's in Hyères. Goyard will be up against Thomas Goyard, silver medallist in RS:X in Tokyo, and Pierre Le Coq, bronze medallist in RS: X in Rio. In KiteFoil, the field includes the world champion, Theo de Ramecourt; the European champion, Axel Mazella; and Lauriane Nolot (3rd in the World Championship). Gold medallist in Rio and silver medallist in Tokyo, Charline Picon, returns - and for the first time in competition in France in the 49er - partnering with Sarah Steyaert. Bronze medallist in Tokyo in the 470, Aloïse Retornaz will form a new mixed duet with Kevin Peponnet.

More here

Described as a regatta that is ‘not important in terms of results’ by the Irish Sailing Association, Laser sailor Finn Lynch's consistent score against a quality fleet in the Bay of Palma has, on the contrary, produced a very important result that reveals the depth of his Paris ambitions. 

By dint of an error-free series and a thrilling medal race finish, the National Yacht Club ace took fourth overall at the Princesa Sofia Trophy, the first Olympic classes regatta to be sailed in three years.

It's yet another credible international career-high in a fleet of 160 for the 25-year-old and a result that matches his previous best overall score from Mallorca in 2019.

The ILCA 7 medal raceThe ILCA 7 medal race

Lynch went into the medal race in fifth place having climbed up the top ten from ninth on Wednesday and made the best of the points situation to finish with the leather medal. 

With the moderate breeze freshening off Ca'n Pastilla on the Bay of Palma, the ILCA7 medal race was the first final to get underway for the Princess Sofia trophy and Lynch made a clean start and was up to fourth place by the first mark.

In the next two legs, he held the lead until the final few hundred metres when the wind freshened on the opposite side of the course and he was overtaken on the finishing line to place third in a group of overlapped leading boats.

Nevertheless, the result was enough to move him from fifth to fourth place, continuing his rise through the ranks of the top ten boats all week.

Britain's Michael Beckett placed seventh in the race and took the Gold medal as Afloat reports here while Australia's Matt Wearn was second and took Silver. Germany's Philippe Buhl was last in the race and placed third overall.

Finn Lynch put together a really solid event in Palma while sailing with a swollen arm that meant painkillers for two days Finn Lynch put together a really solid event in Palma while sailing with a swollen arm that meant taking painkillers for two days of the competition Photo: Sailing Energy

Far from being 'not important', Saturdays’ fourth overall result is a valuable confidence boost both in terms of Lynch's physical and mental preparations, right at the beginning of a crucially short Olympic cycle for Paris 2024.

The Laser hopeful who, did not qualify for Tokyo but a few months later finished second at the World Championships last November has had a head-scratching time of it of late.

While whatever happened for Tokyo is not easy for Lynch or his supporters to reconcile, the hope now must be that the 2021 Worlds and 2022 Palma scoresheets bring with them a real sense of belief.

After all, Lynch became Ireland’s youngest ever Olympic helmsman when he qualified for Rio at the first attempt in 2016.

Judging by his early achievements already in this triennial there is no reason he cannot repeat the feat for Marseille in arguably the hottest of all the Olympic classes.

After a 'challenging' Tokyo Review, Irish Sailing needs to show it is putting all efforts into ensuring Lynch's promising tack towards Paris continues. It should do its utmost to eliminate any needless shoreside aggravation, (such as onerous clauses in team contracts) that have the potential to knock him or indeed other team members off course.

Next up for Lynch is May's defence of his 2021 silver medal at this year's Worlds to be held in Puerto Vallarta in Mexico.

Full results here

Britain's Michael Beckett took Princesa Sofia Trophy gold in the ILCA 7 class Photo: Sailing EnergyBritain's 27-year-old Michael Beckett from Pemorkeshire took Princesa Sofia Trophy Gold in the ILCA 7 class Photo: Sailing Energy

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On painkillers and sailing with a swollen arm, Ireland's Finn Lynch secured his medal race place when he moved up to fifth place overall at the end of Gold fleet racing in the ILCA7/Laser single-handed fleet today at the Princesa Sofia regatta.

After another breezy day on the Bay of Palma The National Yacht Club sailor had a fifth place in the opening race of the day and followed with his worst result of the week, a 22nd which then became his discard.

The result marks the end of 10 races for the 163-boat class with the top ten placed boats going forward for a brief race on Saturday to decide the podium places.

The best place that Lynch can achieve is fourth to match his previous best at this regatta in 2019.

"Finn has put together a really solid event this week," said Lynch's coach Vasilij Zbogar. "He's had an issue with a swollen arm so it’s hard to sail but all credit to him, he didn't want to give up even on painkillers for two days."

"The upside is that we'll get some medal race practice after a long gap but the downside is that a medal isn't an option so fourth is the target."

British sailor Michael Beckett is  guaranteed a medal and hilled about carrying an 11 points lead into his medal race, ahead of Germany’s 2020 world champion Philipp Buhl and Australia’s Tokyo gold medallist Matt Wearn:

Beckett said, “I love the medal races. It is good to have a points gap. Last time I did this regatta I was 21st and this is a great regatta and everyone is back after the Games. I have done a lot of work with the squad and this week I have been fast and it has just felt as good as I have felt in training.”

Ireland's other sailor in the ILCA7 event is Ewan McMahon Howth YC) who placed 32nd overall after the ten race fleet series ended and who is going to work on executing the upwind legs better.

McMahon's younger brother Jamie placed 25th in the Silver fleet after a promising start to the series on Monday when he scored top 20 results in his qualification flight.

The medal race final for the ILCA7 class takes place at 10 30 (Irish Summer time) on Saturday 9th April.

Full results here

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Some clever sailing through minimising race course errors has put Finn Lynch into sixth place overall in the Laser/ILCA 7 class at the Princess Sofia Regatta in Mallorca today.

The National Yacht Club ace scored eighth and 14th in fresh winds today on the Bay of Palma, scores that give him a highly prized sixth place with just two races remaining in the Gold fleet series.

With the possibility of further improvement tomorrow, Lynch has the prospect of a medal race finish in his first event towards Paris 2024. 

Howth's Ewan McMahon slipped to 30th overall after placing 39th and 21st, his brother Jamie lies in  80th place in the 160-boat fleet.

Best of the Laser Men today was Olympic Champion Matt Wearn who continues his comeback from 32nd overall on the opening day of the competition. 

The Australian was third in the first race when it paid to go left and struggled a bit more in the next when it paid to go right, still scoring a reasonable 12th. Michael Beckett (GBR) was only a point less consistent than Wearn with 14th in the first race and narrowly missing out on a race win against Filip Jurišić (CRO) to finish second. “I got the day half right,” said Beckett, “which was probably about all that anyone managed today. It was hard to read the pattern of the breeze so that was a pretty good day out, really.”

A race win for Philipp Buhl (GER) puts the 2020 World Champion just two points behind Beckett’s lead, with Wearn now 15 points off the top. France’s Jean-Baptiste Bernaz, the overnight leader did not race today.

Results here

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A most consistent performance from Irish Laser sailor Finn Lynch on the Bay of Palma shows the depth of the Rio Olympian's ambition for Paris 2024 as the National Yacht Club ace broke into the top ten overall of the 162-boat fleet.

Gold fleet racing started for the ILCA7 class today with Lynch taking an eighth place that matches his top ten scores of the qualification series.

A 15th place in the next race is his discard so far with four races remaining in the Gold fleet to decide the top ten boats that will sail Saturday's medal race final.

"I feel good after a tricky day with lots of shifty winds," said Lynch after racing. "I'm happy with my position after four days of racing to have not used my discard - 15th is still a good result in Gold fleet."

Ireland's other ILCA7 Gold fleet sailor Ewan McMahon had a mixed day, discarding a weighty 49th place but staying calm to deliver a third place straight after. The Howth sailor lies 23rd overnight.

Younger brother Jamie McMahon lies eleventh overall in the Silver fleet after a 14th and a discarded 47th place.

Racing continues for all fleets on Thursday and Friday to decide the top ten in each event for Saturday's medal race final.

French veteran campaigner Jean Baptiste Bernaz, who is setting out on his fifth consecutive Olympic journey looking to represent France at their home games holds the overall lead in the ILCA 7 class just one point ahead of his German training partner Philipp Buhl who won the second race for gold fleet.

“The first race was not easy there was one big wind shift and if you were not there you were finished. I lost about ten boats and finished 18th but the second race was better. It was that kind of day.” Said Buhl, the 2020 world champion who is looking to get to his third Olympics “This feels different this time because it is a much shorter lead in. It is not always enjoyable. When you are sitting around in the rain waiting it is not so nice but when you are leading a gold fleet race in the sunshine in good conditions this evening, that is good fun and keeps you motivated.”

Results here

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Consistent Finn Lynch kept Irish hopes of a top ILCA 7/Laser result at Palma’s Princesa Sofia Regatta on a gusty second day of qualification in the 162-boat fleet. 

Rio 2016 Olympian Lynch (National Yacht Club) sits in 20th overall out of 163 boats so makes the 55-boat Gold fleet cut with races to spare.

Likewise, his main rival for Paris 2024, Howth YC’s Ewan McMahon counts three out of four races with top 14 places so also makes the Gold fleet in 38th place overall.

McMahon's younger brother Jamies lies 56th overall dropping back in the overall scores after a capsize in a choppy Bay of Palma.

Ireland's Finn Lynch (IRL 216890) is captured by drone rounding the weather mark on day two of the ILCA 7 racing at the Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofía in Mallorca. Photo: Sailing EnergyIreland's Finn Lynch (IRL 216890) is captured by drone rounding the weather mark on day two of the ILCA 7 racing at the Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofía in Mallorca. Photo: Sailing Energy

Beckett on top in ILCA 7, gold medallist on the prowl

Britain’s Michael Beckett moved to the top of the 180 boat ILCA 7 leaderboard after scoring 1,2 in the Blue Group of Qualifying.

Reigning Olympic Champion Matt Wearn winner here in 2018, scored the reciprocal results of 2,1 in Blue Group but the Australian has risen only to 32nd overall in the 167 boat fleet after a DNC yesterday.

Beckett was pleased with his day but is expecting a much harder fight from tomorrow Wednesday when the top tier get reorganised into Gold Fleet racing. “None of it’s easy but in those conditions today the top five do start to stretch a bit of a gap after a while,” said Beckett. “Tomorrow it’s going to be much harder, the margins will be much smaller and the quality of the fleet will make it a bigger challenge.”

 Racing continues on Wednesday for all fleets and the prospect of lighter conditions for the second half of the regatta that continues until Saturday when the medal race finals for all classes will be sailed.

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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