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Sailing on Saturday with WM Nixon

There was a solid start for both Irish Lasers competing in the first two races of the World Sailing Cup in Miami yesterday. Finn Lynch is sitting in 16th overall and teammate (and rival for the single Tokyo berth) Liam Glynn is lying 23rd. 

In fact, Lynch and Glynn managed to sail round the course in both races together.  "It was strange to travel to Miami to still be racing beside my team-mate!" Lynch told Afloat.ie

Lynch, who made the top half of the fleet in Miami in 2018, is aiming for improvement this week albeit with a neck injury.

Both races were sailed in 7-12 knots and Lynch caught about 15 places from mark 1 in each race. 

The qualifying series concludes today and the forecast is light and shifty again on Biscayne Bay.

After nearly a month of training and competition on the Bay, many of the top sailors competing in the 2019 Hempel World Cup Series Miami have seen just about every wind condition Miami has to offer.

But that doesn't make it any easier to race when the breeze is out of the west, a direction notorious for lower velocity and little consistency when it comes to the wind direction.

"The wind was constantly shifting to the right [side of the course]," says 49er skipper Sime Fantela (CRO), "but the pressure was staying left, so it was not an easy decision where to sail. The ones who managed to tack when they wanted and have their line, they were winning."

Fantela speaks from first-hand experience. With a 3-13-2, Fantela, who sails with his younger brother Mihovil as a crew, emerged relatively unscathed from the opening day of the regatta and will carry a three-point lead over Diego Botín le Chever and Iago López Marra (ESP) in second and a seven-point advantage over James Peters and Fynn Sterritt (GBR) in third.

Of the three races today, Sime Fantela was most pleased with the second one. The short course format used by the 49er class made passing a challenge.

"The start was not that great, and we managed to come back," he says. "We rounded [the first mark] I think in 23rd and managed to finish around 12 to 15. It's quite tough with 40 boats on the start and the racecourse was a short course so not so many clear lanes. You have to dig your way through."

Like the Fantela brothers, the team of Botín le Chever and López Marra also struggled in the second race, finishing 16th. But a win in the first race and a fourth in the final one more than balanced that one hiccup.

"Try to make a good start and then see what's going on and try to catch the best shift," said López Marra when asked about the key to a strong race today. "The seabreeze and the gradient wind [were fighting one another] and that's why it was so shifty."

As Spain was unable to qualify for a country berth in the 49er class at last summer's Hempel Sailing World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark, the top priority for Botín le Chever and López Marra is to earn that berth this year at the world championships in New Zealand at the end of the year.

That's one box that has been ticked by Sime and Mihovil Fantela. They are the defending world champions after a breakout performance in Aarhus and have punched their ticket to Tokyo. However, as they are relatively new to the class-Sime won a gold medal in the 470 in Rio 2016 while Mihovil sailed in the RS:X class until 2016-they are not letting that success go to their heads.

"We still have the same goal, the same focus, the same will to train and improve," said Sime Fantela. "We missed some strong wind training [last year] so we're trying to look this season for the strong wind places to go and train. Lots of training, lots of days out of home and looking forward to Tokyo."

The 30-boat 49erFX fleet followed the 49ers later on in the afternoon and in a shifting and variable breeze, just one race could be completed.

Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth (GBR) found some form and led the race from the top mark through to the finish. Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) and Germany's defending champions Victoria Jurczok and Anika Lorenz (GER) followed.

American favourites Stu McNay and Dave Hughes avoided any major pitfalls on the water and stand in third place, of 37 boats, after two races in the Men's 470.

"We rolled a third and a fifth today," says McNay. "We did the big picture things right, but made a couple small errors. We did lose a couple of points. Dave and I have been sailing for a long time, we've raced in Miami for years. It's a challenging venue, so we're always glad when we walk away from a shifty day like this with scores we can carry forward."

For Hughes, this regatta as close to a home event as he'll ever get, something he tries not to take for granted.

"This is always a lovely event and always kind of the way to start the year for us," he says. "I live in Miami, so it's got a special meaning for that. It's a bit of an added stress because it is a home event and we are always looking to be proper hosts to everybody who comes here, off the water, at least. But it's wonderful because all of our international friends come to our home. It's a treat and for us this is just a staple of our sailing and our Olympic careers."

With a seventh at last summer's Hempel Sailing World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark, McNay and Hughes qualified for the United States for the berth in the Men's 470 class at the Tokyo 2020 regatta. Now they are focused on making sure they are the team to claim that berth. They've been down this road before, having sailed together in the Rio 2016 regatta - McNay sailed with a different partner in Beijing 2008 and London 2012 - but that doesn't make it easy.

"We're trying not to be distracted, trying to keep our priorities in line," says McNay. "Not let one piece of equipment become distracting, not let one detail of a skill become distracting. Give our prioritization to each item, as it deserves, as it will help us most, which is a challenge because perspective is the easiest thing to lose when your head is this deep in something."

Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergström (SWE) hold the early advantage in the Men's 470 on five points. They are two points clear of Italy's Giacomo Ferrari and Giulio Calabrò and a further point ahead of the Americans.

The Italians took the first race win of the day and Japan's fifth-placed team of Tetsuya Isozaki and Akira Takayanagi sealed the second.

Among the fleets that got in two or more races, only the Women's 470 duo of Agnieszka Skrzypulec and Jolanta Zohar (POL) had a perfect day, winning both races. They trailed around just two of 12 marks and currently have a six-point lead over Fabienne Oster and Anastasiya Winkel (GER) and a nine-point advantage over Benedetta di Salle and Alessandra Dubbini (ITA).

Spain's Angel Granda-Roque and China's Bing Ye are tied on nine points apiece in the Men's RS:X after a tough day on the water. In light winds the sailors had to pump their sails hard to take the initiative. Granda-Roque took an eighth and a first with Ye securing a fifth and a fourth. The first victory of the event went to France's Thomas Goyard but a blackflag in the second pushed him down to 29th overall.

Just one race was possible in the Women's RS:X and China's Yunxiu Lu took the win. She was followed by Italy's Flavia Tartaglini and Israel's Yarden Isaak.

Brazil's Samuel Albrecht and Gabriela Nicolino de Sa shone in the Nacra 17, snapping up two out of three victories. The pair thrived in the 7-9 knot breeze on the Echo racing area and discard the seventh they picked up in race two.

2018 Miami gold medallists Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin (AUS) took the day's other race win and are tied with Spain's Iker Martinez and Olga Maslivets (ESP) for second on five points.

London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Jonathan Lobert (FRA) picked up the single race win in the 25-boat Finn fleet. The towering Frenchman fought hard against Croatia's Josip Olujic throughout the race and the momentum swung back and forth. Lobert held the lead early on in the race but the Croatian hit back to claim it at the midway point. Lobert advanced on the final run and took the race win by just two seconds.

The Laser fleet is the largest in Miami with 101 boats registered to race. As a result, the first two days of competition are qualifying races before the top sailors move into the gold fleet to decide who qualifies for Sunday's Medal Race.

The top-ranked sailors were all aiming to get off to good starts and they did exactly that. In the yellow fleet, Rio 2016 bronze medallist Sam Meech (NZL) and World Cup Final medallist Hermann Tomasgaard (NOR) took a race win apiece with another single-digit finish. Meech leads on three points with the Norwegian second on four. Matt Wearn (AUS) posted a 5-4 in the yellow fleet and is third.

In the blue fleet, consistency was at a premium. Joaquin Blanco (ESP) and Elliot Merceron (GBR) were the top performers and are fourth and fifth overall. Blue fleet victories went to William de Smet (BEL) who is 22nd and the 18th placed Yuri Hummel (NED).

The Laser Radial class was able to get in just a single race, which was won by Dongshuang Zhang (CHN) with Zoe Thomson (AUS) in second and Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) in third.

Racing resumes on Wednesday 30 January at 10:30 local time. The fleets who were unable to complete a full schedule of racing on Tuesday will sail an additional race, minus the Men's and Women's RS:X.

Results are here

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Tokyo Olympic Laser trialist Finn Lynch goes into the second round of the Sailing World Cup nursing a neck injury sustained in training earlier this month but the National Yacht Club ace says he is ready to race on Biscayne Bay today

The week after Christmas myself and the Irish Sailing team went to Cadiz, Spain for a fitness camp.

I cycled just under 500km in the week after and spent quite a bit of time in the gym and the pool.

Unfortunately, on the 4th of January, I strained my neck in the gym and have been managing the injury since. I'm over the hump now but still have some pain.

As Afloat.ie reported yesterday, I've been in Miami for a week now - managing my workload nicely and feel ready for the racing today. There are three races today and two days of qualifying. I started this World Cup Series with a 17th in Japan in September. I was racing very well but not starting as well as I can! I'm looking forward to getting underway on Biscayne Bay!

I'm here with coach Vasilij Žbogar and Liam Glynn is sailing the Laser too.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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The National Yacht Club's Laser sailor Finn Lynch is the only Irish Olympic trialist for Tokyo 2020 competing in tomorrow's 2019 World Cup Series Miami, held out of Coconut Grove from 29 to 3 February. The first big event of 2019 will see nine defending champions return to Biscayne Bay determined to defend their titles.

2019 marks the 30th edition of an Olympic sailing regatta in Miami and, with 650 sailors from 60 nations registered to race across ten events, it’s expected to be another strong year of competition.

Lynch, who has yet to make the country standard for Tokyo will be aiming to beat his own past achievements in Florida. Last January proved a tough but valuable testing ground for the then 21–year–old, who won gold at the 2014 U19 World Championships. Lynch ended up 32nd in his 70–boat fleet overall after nine races sailed.

Of the 2018 Miami gold medallists, Giles Scott (GBR) is the only athlete not competing this year. Across the ten events, there are 34 Olympic medallists racing alongside numerous World and World Cup podium finishers, and the best sailors will be vying for a World Cup medal as the race to Tokyo 2020 continues.

Australia’s Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin will come into Miami as favourites in the Nacra 17 after securing gold at the first round of the Hempel World Cup Series in Enoshima, Japan last September.

Waterhouse and Darmanin overthrew Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti (ITA) in the Medal Race to claim a hard-earned title - but exactly one year ago, the competition was slightly less stressful for the Aussies. Racing on the Biscayne Bay waters in 2018, Waterhouse and Darmanin controlled the fleet all week long and simply needed to finish the Medal Race to secure gold. They did that with ease and are back to defend their title.

Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza Saroli (ARG) and Thomas Zajac and Barbara Matz (AUT) joined them on the podium in 2018 and also return this year.

Further contenders in the 31-boat Nacra 17 fleet include Samuel Albrecht and Gabriela Nicolino de Sá (BRA), Iker Martinez and Olga Maslivets (ESP), John Gimson and Anna Burnet (GBR) and Bora Gulari and Louisa Chafee (USA).

Racing is scheduled to commence on Tuesday 29 January and run through to Sunday 3 February. More on the event site here

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Laser sailor Finn Lynch is on the cusp of the top third of his World Cup Series fleet in Enoshima after scoring 15 in both of today's races on 2020 Olympic waters.

The National Yacht Club star continues to lead Irish hopes in 20th place after five races sailed in his 59-boat fleet but it was a more difficult day for his female counterparts in the Radial division, Aoife Hopkins and Aisling Keller, who did not race because of lack of wind. 

The Irish 49er pair Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle dropped back a place overall to 20 from 27, not helped, unfortunately, by scoring three successive discretionary penalties (DPI) because their bow numbers were judged to be missing (the mandatory number stickers fell off the Irish boat).

Seafra Guilfoyle sailorSeafra Guilfoyle refuels after racing in Enoshima Photo: James O'Callaghan/Irish Sailing

Meanwhile, the Royal Irish Yacht Club's Saskia Tidey, now sailing for Team GB, lies second overall in the 49erFX.

Full results are here

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing Competition, threw a new challenge at the 466 sailors from 44 nations racing at the 2018 World Cup Series Japan Round on Thursday as a light, testing breeze danced across Sagami Bay.

Global sailing venues can quite often be renowned for catering for strong sailors with big winds or for lighter, tactical athletes in weaker breeze – but in Enoshima, the competitors recognise that it will take a good all-rounder to conquer on the Olympic waters.

Following two days of consistent 12-17 knot northerly winds, the fan was turned down a notch with 5-8 knots, which then decreased to 3-4 knots. However, out of the ten Olympic fleets, only the Radial failed to complete a race.

"In Enoshima, the competitors recognise that it will take a good all-rounder to conquer on the Olympic waters"

Giles Scott (GBR) has made an almost seamless return to the Finn fleet and after six races in varying conditions, he holds the lead.

Scott is making his first appearance in the Finn fleet for six months after an absence to concentrate on the British America’s Cup campaign. However, judging by the way he has controlled the 21-boat fleet, many observers would think he had never been away.

"It feels great to be back," he commented. "The last bit of racing I did was in Palma [in March] and I haven’t done too much sailing since. It’s nice to be out here racing again."

Scott won both of the Rio 2016 Olympic test events, giving him confidence to achieve Olympic glory, and he admitted he’s in Enoshima to give him the first boost on the Tokyo journey, "I chose this event over going to Aarhus this year for that reason. My program is geared more to the Olympics, so I have to pick and choose which events I do, and this is an obvious one for me. It’s great to be here."

In the stronger breeze the days prior, Scott recorded a 6-1-2-6. Thursday’s light winds tested him as he sailed to a tenth, which he discards, but he quickly bounced back with a second.

"You’ve got to be an all-rounder here, I think," commented Scott on the key to Enoshima success. "We’ve been here for two weeks and while the event has been on for a few days, we’ve had some shifty offshore conditions, but earlier on we had big seas and big winds as well as some light stuff."

Scott is in top spot on 17 points and is followed by Nicholas Heiner (NED) on 20.8 points (the .8 arose from a discretionary scoring penalty applied to his races on day one related to hull weight) and Jorge Zarif (BRA) and Ed Wright (GBR) on 23 points each.

Heiner and Zarif both played down the return of Scott, instead taking their time to speak about the strength of the fleet at large.

Heiner commented, "He [Scott] is undefeated but he is never there so you can’t really beat him most of the time. All the top sailors are here so it’s great to sail with these guys again, not the biggest fleet but the same as the Olympic games, so you really feel it more."

Zarif added, "It’s an honour to be competing against these guys. We have Josh [Junior (NZL)], Ed, Giles and Nicolas who are at top of their game. It’s nice to be in the mix with them."

Four Finn fleet races remain ahead of Sunday’s Medal Race.

Bryony Shaw (GBR) reduced the gap on overnight leader Peina Chen (CHN) to three points after two consistent races where she recorded a 3-5 scoreline.

With a blend of strong onshore winds one day to offshore tricky breeze the next, as Scott stated, it takes a sailor with strong and light wind expertise to conquer in Enoshima.

After racing, Shaw was pleased with the work she’s put in to prepare, "In these conditions, windsurfers have to sail more on their fin and that’s something I’ve been working hard on since the World Championships. I am happy that I’m improving on that.

"It’s important you sail well in the mixed conditions yet keep your performance consistent throughout races."

Chen won the day’s opening race but could only follow up with a 13th, which she discards. 2018 World Champion Lilian de Geus (NED) is third overall and the day’s other race win went to eighth-placed Hongmei Shi (CHN).

There were some mixed scores in the Men’s RS:X but Kiran Badloe (NED) held on to his lead. The Dutch sailor came through in 17th in the opening race of the day before hitting back with a fourth to sit seven points clear of Mattia Camboni (ITA).

Switzerland’s Mateo Sanz Lanz moved up to third from sixth after a race win and a ninth.

Benjamin Bildstein and David Hussl (AUT) stormed into medal contention in the 49er with an expert day of racing. As many around them racked up some high scores, the Austrians snapped up two race wins and a sixth to propel themselves up to fourth from 12th.

Great Britain’s James Peters and Fynn Sterritt held on to their overnight lead after some high scores but Lukasz Przybytek and Pawel Kolodzinski (POL) drew level after a 4-5-8 scoreline.

Dylan Fletcher-Scott and Stu Bithell dropped from second to 11th after a 19-19-22. Their discard is a 23rd from the second day, so they count all the scores.

The 49erFX followed the 49er fleet on the Enoshima racing area in a dying afternoon breeze. A single race was completed and overnight leaders Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) snapped up the victory.

Many of their nearest rivals stuttered and they lead Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey (GBR) by 26-points.

Finn Lynch LaserIreland's Finn Lynch competing in the Laser dinghy class lies 20th overall Photo: Jesus Renedo/World Sailing

The leading Laser sailors are starting to find medal-winning consistency. The top five all posted a top ten finish in the single race of the day and Elliot Hanson (GBR) held on to his lead following a third. Sam Meech (NZL) snapped up a sixth and is second. Nick Thompson (GBR) follows in third after finishing the sole race in second behind Lorenzo Chiavarini (GBR).

No Races for Radials

The Laser Radial fleet were unable to complete their race in unstable conditions, ensuring the overnight points remain. Alison Young (GBR), Marit Bouwmeester (NED), Josefin Olsson (SWE) and Sarah Douglas (CAN) are split by three points at the top.

The Japanese Men’s 470 have shown no signs of slowing on their home waters, with four teams in the top five. Only Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) separate the Japanese in second.

A discarded 12th and a second allow Keiju Okada and Jumpei Hokazono (JPN) to hold onto their overall lead on 12 points. The Australians follow on 25, with Daichi Takayama and Kimihiko Imamura (JPN) on 29, Tetsuya Isozaki and Akira Takayanagi (JPN) on 36 and Kazuto Doi and Naoya Kimura (JPN) also on 36.

There is no separating Benedetta di Salle and Alessandra Dubbini (ITA) and Afrodite Zegers and Anneloes van Veen (NED) in the Women’s 470; the teams are locked on 21 points apiece.

Poland’s Agnieszka Skrzypulec and Jolanta Ogar are five points back in third, while Amy Seabright and Anna Carpenter (GBR) and Mengxi Wei and Haiyan Gao (CHN) won the day’s races.

Elsewhere, 2018 Nacra 17 World Champions Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti (ITA) saw their lead cut by Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin (AUS).

The Italians’ 4-6-12 saw them surrender points to the Australians, who discard their eighth and count their first and seventh. Tita and Banti lead on 27 points, followed by the Rio 2016 silver medallists on 32. Vittorio Bissaro and Maelle Frascari (ITA) are on 38 points in third, one point clear of Nathan and Haylee Outteridge (AUS).

Final Fleet Races

Friday’s racing will be the final day of fleet racing for the RS:X fleets, the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 ahead of their Medal Races on Saturday. Racing resumes at 12:00 local time.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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On the penultimate day of Gold fleet racing for Irish sailors competing at the Hempel Sailing World Championships in Denmark, elation for a race win by Finn Lynch of the National Yacht Club in the Laser event was later matched by disappointment for his disqualification in the race that followed.

Overall, it means Lynch will need top results in the remaining two races if he is to secure a berth for Ireland in Tokyo. Lynch now lies 33rd overall and 22nd by nation. Only 14 Tokyo 'nation spots' are up for grabs and this is currently filled by the top 18 places, so Lynch must deliver in both races if a jump of 15 places is to be achieved.

The Rio 2016 Olympian led for most of his opening race of the Gold fleet series, working his way into a controlling 40-metre lead over the 58-boat fleet. Light winds made for tricky tactical calls but Lynch continued to earn a win that moved him into 18th place overall but it was, unfortunately, a short-lived moved up the leaderboard. In the race that followed, the National Yacht Club sailor suffered a starting-line infringement under the ‘Black Flag’ rule along with an Australian competitor and both were disqualified. A request to recheck the scoring was later submitted but the result stands this evening.

Lynch said on social media: "A mixed day out on the water! Delighted with finishing 1st in Race 1 of the Gold Fleet, my first win at a Worlds! Unfortunately, I got Black Flagged in the 2nd Race, but we have put in a scoring enquiry and are waiting to hear the result. All in all, a solid start to the Gold Fleet Racing!"

The Laser and Laser Radial have the biggest fleets in Aarhus with 284 sailors from 71 nations competing.

The top ten finishers will sail a medal race final to determine the podium places and 2018 Laser World champion on Friday.

Full results are here

Aoife Hopkins in World Championship Gold Fleet

Meanwhile, Ireland’s other Gold fleet sailor saw equally testing conditions on the same course area when Howth Yacht Club’s Aoife Hopkins had her first taste of world championship Gold fleet standard. She had a 44th place in the first race while the second race was abandoned when the breeze died and she lies 56th overall.

In the Silver fleets that managed two races for the day, Liam Glynn of Ballyholme Yacht Club had a 47th and 27th in the Laser class while Lough Derg’s Aisling Keller scored a second place followed by a 17th in the Laser Radial event.

There were strong Irish performances in the Finn Silver fleet where Baltimore Sailing Club’s Fionn Lyden had fifth and third places while Oisin McClelland from Donaghadee Sailing Club had an eleventh and a fifth.

Racing continues on Wednesday with final races for Gold and Silver fleets in the Laser, Laser Radial and Finn classes. Racing also continues in the 49er fleet which concludes its final series on Thursday - subject to weather.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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After two days of racing, Laser sailor Finn Lynch from the National Yacht Club had a fourth place, his second top ten of the four races, and lies 24th overall and inside the cut for the Gold fleet at the World Sailing Championships Aarhus, Denmark.

Fresh conditions greeted the 14 Irish sailors competing at the championships today where a full programme of races was completed and classes start looking towards Gold, Silver and Bronze fleet splits. 

Silver Fleet for Irish Finns

After three tough days afloat, the single-handed Finn fleet completed its qualification series of six races where Baltimore Sailing Club's Fionn Lyden narrowly missed a place in Gold fleet by two spots when he placed 47th overall. Oisin Mcclelland from Donaghadee SC wasn't much further behind in 52nd overall. 

The Finn class takes a well-earned rest day on Sunday ahead of four more races on Monday and Tuesday with both Irish boats competing in the Silver fleet.

Lynch Counts Second Top Ten Result

Rio 2016 veteran Finn Lynch from the National Yacht Club had a fourth place, his second top ten of the four races sailed to date and lies 24th overall and currently inside the cut for the Gold fleet. Crucially for Ireland's prospects for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, he is close to the top 14 by nation count that will qualify for the next games at this world championships.

"Some tricky 5-15 knot shifty offshore winds today made for difficult conditions! I got caught out with a 50 degree left shift in Race 1 and finished up 46th. Managed to bounce back well in Race 2 with a 4th leaving me 234rd overall as it stands", Lynch told supporters on social media.

Liam Glynn from Ballyholme YC also enjoyed a top ten result with an eighth but followed this with a 42nd in the second race. With his discard already used for a 52nd place in the opening race on Friday he now lies 85th overall with two races tomorrow to decide the Gold/Silver/Bronze fleet split in the 165-boat fleet.

Aoife Hopkins Moves Up to 44th

In the women's Laser Radial event, Howth YC's Aoife Hopkins had a good day posting an 18th and a seventh places for the day, a step-up in form from Friday that moves her to 44th overall. Lough Derg's Aisling Keller didn't fare so well with a 53rd and 46th for the day. Like the Mens' event, two further races in the qualification round will be sailed tomorrow. 

Seaton & Guilfoyle Avoid Total Disappointment

Meanwhile, the full Irish line-up was afloat today as the 49er skiff series got underway for the four crews that had a three-race day. London and Rio veteran Ryan Seaton from Ballyholme YC, now paired with Seafra Guilfoyle from the Royal Cork YC averted total disappointment by scoring a seventh in the third race of the day but that leaves them third Irish boat and 49th overall.

Top Irish honours amongst the 49ers for the day goes to the Howth and Skerries pairing of Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove who had an eighth and a 13th before being denied a top three when they capsized short of the finishing-line in the third race. The Dublin Northside duo are best of the Irish boats in 38th overall.

"The Dublin Northside duo are best of the Irish boats in 38th overall"

Baltimore's Mark Hassett and Schull's Oisin O'Driscoll also had a top ten result and lie 49th overall while Sean and Tadgh Donnelly from the National YC had two consistent 14th places after discarding a 'Did Not Finish' score after they suffered gear failure in the opening race.

Tidey Seventh in 49erFX

In the 49erFX womens skiff, Annalise Murphy has yet to enter the fray, as training continues on Dublin Bay with new crew Katie Tingle, so Irish interest lies with Irish Rio veteran Saskia Tidey who is in seventh place sailing with Charlotte Dobson for Team GB.

Racing continues on Sunday for Laser, Laser Radial and 49er events with a strong wind forecast.

Published in Tokyo 2020

Scores of 42 and 5 in the last races of the Sailing World Cup at Hyeres on Saturday brought the National Yacht Club's Finn Lynch back up to 16th overall at a hard fought light wind edition of France's top Olympic classes regatta. Results from the 68–boat fleet are here.

It was a result which the 22–year–old Carlow native declared 'I'm happy with this placing for now!'

Lynch will be back in Dun Laoghaire before travelling back to France to La Rochelle for the European Laser Championships which start later this week.

Irish 49er skiff duo Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle finished 17th from 40, taking a race win in the final fleet race.

Hyères, France signed off round three of the 2018 World Cup Series in style with consistent wind conditions allowing the final five Olympic disciplines to conclude their competition.

Marit Bouwmeester (NED) and Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergström (SWE) wrapped up gold in the Laser Radial and Men’s 470 ahead of their Medal Races. However it was still wide open in the remaining fleets as a great day of competition played out in a consistent 11-14 knot breeze.

From six days of racing, the French team were the most successful, amassing seven medals, four of them gold. Poland managed to snap up two golds and a bronze with New Zealand taking five medals home, one gold, two silver and two bronze.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Bouncing back after what he termed the 'disappointment' of January's World Cup top half result in Miami, the National Yacht Club's Laser ace, Finn Lynch was on the podium at Andalusian Week in the Bay of Cadiz this week. 

After six races sailed, Ireland's youngest ever Olympic Games helmsman was ten points behind Poland's Filip Ciszkiewicz in the 36-boat fleet. Results are here.

This Bronze from Cadiz follows' Lynch's silver at Gran Canaria Olympic Week won in December, a feat for which he picked up an Afloat Sailor of the Month award. 

Lynch's rival for the single Tokyo Laser berth in 2020, Liam Glynn, of Ballyholme, was 14th overall. 

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Florida's Biscayne Bay proved a tough but valuable testing ground for both of Ireland's Laser sailors on the road to Tokyo 2020 at the Miami Sailing World Cup this week.

Once the breeze was on in day two, the National Yacht Club's Finn Lynch scored a 15,18, some promising results for the 21–year–old, who won gold at the 2014 U19 World Championships. As it turned out, the teen results were Lynch's best individual results of the nine race series, ending up 32nd in his 70–boat fleet overall.

Aoife Hopkins from Howth Yacht Club ended up 43rd from 68th in the Radial fleet that saw her posting similar results in both heavy and light winds. The U21 Euro Champion got off to a bad start with gear failure on day one. A capsize in heavy winds on the run into the line cost the Trinity Student dearly in the second race on day two. Her best result of the eight races sailed was a well–earned 23rd in race six. This is the start of her 2018 campaign towards the Olympic qulaifiers in August, so the experience Stateside this week will have been a worthwhile one, early in the year. 

Overall results are here.

With five sailors in striking distance of the gold medal and seven mathematically alive for a podium position, the Medal Race for the Women's RS:X at the 2018 World Cup Series Miami, USA, was projected to be the most exciting of the five Medal Races scheduled for the penultimate day of the regatta.

Watch the early Medal Races here

And it delivered with abundant speed and excitement in champagne sailing conditions on Biscayne Bay.

When the spray cleared, Hélène Noesmoen (FRA) was zipping across the finish line in first in excess of 20 knots and, in the process, moving from fourth to first in the overall standings. Rounding out the medals were Flavia Tartaglini (ITA) and Blanca Manchon (ESP).

"Today was windy, and I think that is my strong point,” said Noesmoen. "I tried to keep consistent during the week and really push myself in the Medal Race, and it paid off. I had a bad second day, I think that was due to the wind conditions, which dropped me to the middle of the [results] table. But I had an amazing third day, which kept me in the top 10 and allowed me to compete at the Medal Race.”

The turning point in the double-points Medal Race came on the first downwind leg when Stefania Elfutina (RUS), the defending Olympic bronze medalist and regatta leader going into the day, caught the edge of her board after leaping off a wave and crashed into the water. It the time it took her to recover her sail and get going again, five sailors—and her medal chances—passed her by. One of those zipping past was Noesmoen, who rounded the second of five marks in sixth place. While the breeze velocity was quite steady, there were gains to be made by playing the shifts correctly. On the third leg, Noesmoen found an elevator to the podium, moving to second and then to first for the final two legs of the race.

"This race was going well for me until I crashed on the first downwind close to the gate,” said Elfutina. "I'm not sure what happened. I'm trying not to feel disappointed with myself. I enjoyed this regatta and my races. I learned a lot of things on the water. I can't really say what I learned [about preventing what happened in the final race], it's just an instinct that your body adjusts to on the water, and it becomes a reflex.”

For the first time, World Sailing employed a reaching start and finish for the RS:X divisions. For sailors that are used to parking close to the starting line and accelerating at the last second—typical of a start in the RS:X class—this America's Cup-inspired course format required a retooled starting strategy. But the course, which features four reaching and downwind legs and two upwind legs, was generally met with positive reviews.

As was the case with the Women's RS:X, no team in the Men's 49er fleet had secured a podium position of any color going into the Medal Race. But unlike in the RS:X division, the form guide held true with world champions Dylan Fletcher-Scott and Stuart Bithell (GBR) staying right in lockstep with Diego Botín le Chever and Iago López Marra (ESP) throughout the race and ensuring that the British team would emerge from the race with the gold medal. Holding on for third, though they did put themselves in a bit of trouble by rounding the first mark in ninth, were Federico Alonso Tellechea and Arturo Alonso Tellechea (ESP).

"It was brilliant fun out there,” said Bithell, a silver medalist in the 470 class. "We had good breeze and plenty of sunshine. The Medal Race is pretty quick. It was really exciting, and we were just full of adrenaline. It's just incredible sailing [the 49er]. It was hectic but Dylan did a really good job.

"Our strategy initially was to start at the boat end, windward of the Spanish. But we got a little late at the start so we had to go to Plan B, which was to be a bit quicker so we just had to use our speed.”

Though they were, effectively, as far ahead of third place as they were behind first, Botín le Chever and López Marra attacked the racecourse with the aim of getting a gold.

"We needed to put the boat between the British and us to win,” said Botín le Chever. "So we went full-on in the start. The wind was really strong so we had to keep the boat upright. We found ourselves in second place. We needed to overtake the Austrians and we did it. We thought that we'd won the regatta, but then we found out that we were second. Congrats to the British.”

Unfortunately for the Spanish duo, the Austrian team that crossed the line second in the race had crossed the starting line early and was disqualified from the race. But the silver medal is a strong result for this team, which was ninth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

"It's a really good position for us,” said Botín le Chever. "We have some of the greatest 49er sailors here. This event is motivation for us to keep on working hard. We have a lot of regattas ahead, we still have a long way ahead.”

Victoria Jurczok and Anika Lorenz started the Medal Race in the 49erFX class with a comfortable cushion. But in the spicy wind and chopped wave conditions—and multiple capsizes—no lead was safe. So the German duo kept the pedal to the metal and finished second in the race behind Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea (USA).

"It was a hard wrestle for us today,” said Lorenz. "Our main focus on the boat was to make sure that all the manoeuvers were safe and that we didn't capsize. We were not really focusing on the other boats.”

The Norwegian team of Ragna and Maia Agerup was one of the boats that capsized, but in the end it didn't cost them a place in the overall standings. They took silver with Tanja Frank and Lorena Abicht (AUT) in third.

Even for the sailors at the front of the Nacra 17 class, today's race was a learning experience. The 19-21 knots conditions, with 1-meter chop, were right on the edge of what the boats can handle, especially given the fleet's relative inexperience with the lifting foils, which were added to the class less than a year ago. Upwind, most teams chose to keep one hull in the water and go for height over speed. Downwind, however, it was a wild ride with both hulls riding a meter or more out of the water at times. One sailor was swept overboard when her boat crashed down into the water after foiling downwind at 25 knots. She was quickly recovered and her team finished the race.

Lisa Darmanin and skipper Jason Waterhouse (AUS) started the race with a 19-point lead, which meant they only needed to finish the race to ensure the gold medal. Instead they added one more victory to their scorecard, showing exceptional control in challenging conditions.

"We're from Australia,” said Darmanin, a 2016 Rio silver medalist, "so we love the breeze.”

Defending gold medalists Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza Saroli (ARG) were last around the first two marks, but showed remarkable speed on the final downwind leg, going from seventh to third and preserving the silver medal. Thomas Zajac and Barbara Matz (AUT) were sixth in the race and third overall.

With a second in the Medal Race in the Men's RS:X, Kiran Badloe broke up a potential one-two finish for France. But it would've taken a perfect race and quite a bit of help from the rest of the fleet to unseat Louis Giard (FRA) who started the final race with a 13-point advantage. Tom Squires (GBR) won the race. Pierre Le Coq (FRA) was sixth in the race, which was enough to keep him on the podium.

"Today the conditions were incredible, I really enjoyed the racing,” said Giard. "A lot of the guys in the RS:X class are really good. So we had really close competition and all the time you have to constantly be looking out because if you open a small window someone will slip in.

"I can't really put my finger on [the key to my success], but I just try my best and I try to enjoy this competition.”

The Finn, Laser and Laser Radial and Men's and Women's 470 sailed today and will have their Medal Races tomorrow.

In the Finn class, Giles Scott (GBR) holds first position with a 19-point lead over the Turkish sailor, Alican Kaynar. Caleb Paine (USA) sits third in the fleet.

Tom Burton (AUS) has an unassailable lead in the Laser class with a 30-point cushion over Nick Thompson (GBR). After the tough battle for second place with Thompson, throughout the week, Philipp Buhl (GER) lands in third place on the leaderboard.

Alison Young (GBR) climbed up the fleet and managed to gain first place in the Laser Radial.
Emma Plasschaert (BEL) had led for the majority of the week however she drops to second. The Rio 2016 bronze medalist, Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) is third.

In the Men's 470, Luke Patience and Chris Grube (GBR) lead the fleet with 17-points ahead of Kevin Peponnet and Jeremie Mion (FRA). The Swedish, Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergström hold third spot.

Tina Mrak and Veronika Macarol (SLO) move up from fourth to first in the Women's 470. Afrodite Zegers and Anneloes van Veen (NED) take second and Agnieszka Skrzypulec
Irmina Mrózek Gliszczynska (POL) third.

The dinghies will sail their Medal Races tomorrow with the racing scheduled to commence at 12:00. You can watch the remaining Medal Races live here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZcq-EHxZ3M

Published in Tokyo 2020
Tagged under

Equipment failure meant an inauspicious start for Trinity College student Aoife Hopkins at the Miami Sailing World Cup yesterday. The Howth Yacht Club sailor did, however, manage a 26th in the third Laser Radial race to be placed 57th from 68 after two days of light air racing so far in Florida. Conditions are expected to improve today.

In the mens Laser division, Finn Lynch from the National Yacht Club is 38th from 70 on Biscayne Bay. Lynch has arrived in Miami on the back of training camps in Cadiz and a podium finish in Gran Canaria Olympic Week.

Results are available here

 

Contrary to the other seven boats that are currently used for Olympic sailing, the RS:X Windsurfer is at its most physically demanding in lighter air.

It isn't so different from a 5,000-meter foot race. In fact, given the full body contraction required to fan the large sail, it may even be more taxing. And while the relentless pumping is essential to a good result, tactics do still play an integral role, requiring athletes to think clearly while at their physical redline.

"It was tough always, but it was successful,” said Stefania Elfutina (RUS), the bronze medalist in the class from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. "The light winds meant we had to pump more and that made it tough, because after the second race, I was so tired. I lost all my strength on the water. I am pretty happy with today's result though, I scored a 4, 2 and 2.”

Normally, a scoreline such as that would be an express ticket to the head of the leaderboard. But Israel's Noga Geller (ISR) showcased her superior fitness today, winning all three races, to go along with a second in yesterday's lone race. After two days, she has a five-point lead over Elfutina, who is nine points clear of Fujiko Onishi (JPN) in third.

"I had a good day,” said Geller. "All my races were smooth, and I kept good speed and tactics in all. The offshore wind was pretty stable, so I had to find the pressure and take the right shift at the right time. I kept pumping after the start and during downwind. It was really close between [Stefania and I], especially the last race. I started second and I caught up on the gate. In the end, I went to the better side, which paid off.”

Elfutina likened the finish of the third race to a battle of wills, "We were quite close throughout the race, but we were so tired that we didn't even fight much to win. We both sailed on different sides and met again towards the finish. I think she had more power than me and managed to use that to win.”

Israel has long been a powerhouse in Olympic windsurfing. And this cycle is no exception. For Geller, simply making the Olympic team may be just as challenging as winning a medal. Maya Morris (ISR) is sixth in the overall standings with 22 points while Hadar Heller (ISR) is seventh just a point behind. Of the seven Olympic medals Israel has won since 1996, three have come in Windsurfing. Whether it's Geller, or one of her teammates, who represent Israel in 2020 in Tokyo, there is a good chance to build upon that legacy.

That, however, is a long way down the road. The immediate future involves six more full-fleet races and then the Medal Race on Saturday. Elfutina, for one, is hoping for a little more wind.

"The next few days should be windy and I know I'll have to pump less,” said Elfutina, "hopefully I can focus more on strategy than strength.”

In the Men's RS:X fleet, the Swiss, Mateo Sanz Lanz finished first on the leaderboard followed by close rival, Pawel Tarnowski (POL) and Ivan Pastor Lafuente (ESP) in third.

After not even leaving the dock yesterday, the 26 competitors in the Men's Heavyweight Dinghy division, a.k.a. the Finn class, were happy to get in three races today. This regatta marks the return to World Cup Series competition for two medalists from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, gold medalist Giles Scott (GBR) and bronze medalist Caleb Paine (USA).

However it was Ioannis Mitakis (GRE) who ruled the day, climbing the ladder with an eighth in the first race, a third in the second and finally a first to close things out.

"It was a hard day,” said Mitakis, who finished 11th in the Rio 2016 Games, missing the Medal Race by a single point. "We had eight knots and three pumping conditions which made it frustrating for us. We were close into the [Rickenbacker Causeway] on the Echo course and that's where it gets shifty. Overall it was tough, but I think I did okay.”

Paine, who sits sixth, but just four points off the lead, agreed with Mitakis' assessment of the wind on the race course.

"It was a very tricky day of sailing,” he said. "It was oscillating back and forth and had different pressure differences. The downwinds were quite tough as well, just trying to stay in the pressure, which was fairly difficult to see. I had some pretty mediocre starts, but was able to adjust through the shifts to get back into the race and had an okay day.

After winning a bronze in Rio, Paine too some time away from the campaign trail. He started training again last fall, and this event is his first major competition on the road to Tokyo. As with the Israeli Windsurfers, Paine knows the value of a strong national training group.

"It's great [to be campaigning again]. I have Luke Muller here and we have a great program, and not being by myself is quite a great thing. We're making great progress when we sail together and I'm just looking forward to sailing. It's an awesome sport, I'm honored and blessed to do it, and look forward to doing it a little bit more.”

A little further downwind from the causeway, the 49erFX fleet was relishing a steadier breeze and ideal water conditions.

"It's not too wavy and the water is quite flat,” said Victoria Jurczok (GER), "it's something different and really fun to sail here.”

Jurczok and teammate Anika Lorenz were the class of the fleet today, picking up a fourth and three firsts and moving into the overall lead by six points.

"We found out the pattern of the shifts for the day,” said Jurzcok, "so we knew what to do and where to go.”

With six races down, the 49erFX fleet is halfway to Saturday's Medal Race. But as well as they've sailed to this point, Jurzcok and Lorenz are not taking anything for granted, especially with the forecast calling for significantly more breeze over the next few days.

"The next few days are going to be windier,” Jurczok added, "so it's going to different game for us.”

In the 49er, Croatians brothers, Sime and Mihovil Fantela continue to hold their lead on day two whilst Dylan Fletcher-Scott and Stuart Bithell (GBR) are in second but equal on points with Benjamin Bildstein and David Hussl (AUT).

It is all to play for in the Laser Radial fleet as the top three sailors are locked on equal points. Viktorija Andrulyte (LTU), champion of the 2017 Laser Europa Cup held in Lithuania, is first followed by Valentina Balbi (ITA) and Vasileia Karachaliou (GRE) in second and third.

The Laser finished the day with Tom Burton (AUS) in first place on the leaderboard. Nick Thompson (GBR) progressed to second and Thomas Saunders (NZL) is in third.

Australian Rio 2016 Olympic silver medalist Nacra 17 sailors, Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin, dominated today's races winning all three. They hold a nine-point lead over the Great Britain's, John Gimson and Anna Burnet.

The Japanese maintained their dominance in the Men's and Women's 470.

The opening day leaders, Naoki Ichino and Hasegawa Takashi (JPN), defend their top spot in the men's and in the women's fleet, Ai Kondo Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka (JPN) remain first.

Thursday's racing is scheduled to commence at 10:30, local time, starting with the 49er. Schedule, results and live tracking is available below. 

Published in Tokyo 2020
Tagged under
Page 3 of 13

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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