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Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

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Displaying items by tag: Finn

Fionn Lyden of Baltimore Sailing Club, who initially drew attention as an immediate star of university sailing in his first year at College in Cork in 2015, may only have become active in the demanding Olympic Finn Class in December. But his progress in it has been rapid, and last month’s 2017 U23 Finn Worlds on Late Balaton in Hungary saw him taking the Bronze Medal in a style which impressed the most seasoned observers of this special and demanding class, and has made him Afloat.ie “Sailor of the Month” for August 2017.

This week sees the 21–year-old Lyden in the maelstrom of the 124-boat Finn Gold Cup – the Worlds – at the same venue. The Baltimore SC and UCC–supported rising star goes into it with extra confidence on the strength of his showing in the U23 series, and Ireland has an emerging talent who is attracting remarkable levels of international interest.

An obviously able young sailor who shows a refreshing interest in the highly-technical aspects of his specialised boat, Fionn Lyden bears a passing resemblance to the young Bruce Springsteen, and has shown he can sail with the best of them in the quintessential Olympic class. As the old saying would have it, what’s not to like?

young bruce springsteen2Fionn Lyden’s alter ego, the young Bruce Springsteen in full performance mode

Published in Sailor of the Month
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Another long day of waiting for wind was rewarded with two late races on Day 4 of the U23 Finn World Championship in Balatonfüred, Hungary. Oskari Muhonen, from Finland, won the day to now lead the fleet by five points. He very nearly won both races. Baltimore Sailing Club's Fionn Lyden had a stellar day to climb to third.

As reported earlier by Afloat.ie, the UCC engineering switched from the Laser to the Finn last Christmas and has been training hard ever since. The Top Irish youth sailor is only seven points off the lead.

Facundo Olezza, from Argentina, had a day to forget and dropped to second.

The long postponement was lifted just after 15.30 when a light southerly established itself on the lake following a day of zero breeze and sweltering temperatures. By race time it was 6-8 knots and the best breeze the sailors had seen for three days.

Lyden led round the top after favouring the left from Henry Wetherell, from Britain, and Joan Cardona Méndez, of Spain. Lyden still led at the gate but a crazy second beat let Wetherell through to the lead. He looked to have it sealed but Muhonen caught him downwind, and was ahead at the gate, but on the outside. Wetherall just crossed the finish ahead, but overlapped with Muhonen, with Lyden a comfortable third.

Three of the top 10 picked up a UFD starting penalty, including regatta leader Olezza.

Race 6 was started without delay to make best use of the breeze and this time Lars Johan Brodtkorb led at the top but he infringed Muhonen, who took the lead and sailed away for a huge win. The next boat was not even round the leeward mark as he crossed the finish.

Lyden controlled second place all the way with Jack Arnell, from Britain, moving up to third on the second beat, but was then passed by Brodtkorb on the final downwind.

As the fleet finished, the wind was still in place, albeit lighter, and the race team tried to get a third race in but after two false starts they called it a day with the setting sun spreading its golden light across the usually green Lake Balaton.

Lyden said of the day, “I thought we were done with sailing today, but then they sent out which was good. Both starts were very pin end biased and I managed to get away quite nicely. I was good both top marks and from there I just tried to cover the fleet as best I could to protect the left hand side, which seems to be good here.”

He said he is enjoying his first Finn regatta. “It’s good so far. It’s a really friendly and nice class, and I am looking forward to the Gold Cup as well next week.”

“I love sailing the Finn. I love the more technical side to it and the downwind with free pumping.”

Muhonen moved from sixth to first overall after his day’s work and is now where he wants to be.

“After the bronze in the youth Europeans this year I was thinking about the gold here, as well as getting some good training before the gold cup, but I would just be happy with a medal.”

Muhonen has only been in the class for just over a year. “I came into the Finn because I got to big for the Laser.” Before that he sailed Optimist, Europe and Laser. He won a few National titles in the Europe, and was 10th at the Laser youth worlds.

On Friday’s racing he said, “It was a pretty good day. Not as shifty as the first days.”

On the race win, “I got a pretty good start in the middle and let the Irish guy cross me and went for the left and the pressure. And then I was first at the top mark and pretty much stayed there.”

He trains a lot with his fellow Finn sailors Mikael Hyrylainen and triple Olympian Tapio Nirkko, as well as Max Salmimen from Sweden. “We also get a lot of help from the Federation, so that’s good as well.”

At the Europeans this year he finished as top Finnish sailor. He has his sights firmly set on the long term goals. “My long term goal is definitely Tokyo; and Olympics after that as well.”

He says the most attractive part of Finn sailing to him is the downwind. “Downwind sailing is pretty great, with free pumping and the physical aspect. It’s definitely a good boat to sail.”

“Also the social side of the class is great. Especially this regatta, which has been very well organised.”

He feels he is having a good regatta so far. “It feels good to be leading now, definitely. Two more days to go.”

If today shows anything it is that Balaton still has a lot of surprises in store, and no one can rely on anything. Day 4 produced lots of high scores throughout the leader board and lots of lessons learned. There are still a maximum of six races left to sail, so the championship could be considered only half way through, with just two days to go.

Results after 6 races
1 FIN 8 Oskari Muhonen 20
2 ARG 48 Facundo Olezza 25
3 IRL 22 Fionn Lyden 27
4 GBR 71 Henry Wetherell 30
5 NOR 9 Lars Johan Brodtkorb 41
6 USA 91 Luke Muller 46
7 CZE 5 Ondrej Teply 48
8 SWE 11 Johannes Pettersson 50
9 GBR 96 Hector Simpson 52
10 FRA 9 Guillaume Boisard 52

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Fionn Lyden holds fourth overall after light airs continued to dominate the Finn Silver Cup in Hungary. As Afloat.ie reported yesterday, Baltimore's latest additon to the roll of sailors seeking a place on the Tokyo 2020 start line has got his campaign off to a positive start against some of the top youth sailors in the world. Lyden's move to the heavyweight Finn dinghy makes the headlines in the Irish Times Sailing Column here this morning. 

Sebastian Kalafarski of Poland confidently won the only race possible on the third day of racing at the 2017 U23 Finn World Championship for the Silver Cup. However Facundo Olezza of Argentina still holds a 13-point advantage at the top. Luke Muller from USA moves up three places to second while Brit, Henry Wetherell drops one to third.

After a day of waiting around on shore for breeze the fleet was finally sent out mid-afternoon as a light southerly slowly developed. After one false start, the fleet got away in 4-6 knots, but it was relatively steady in direction for a change.

Highlights from Day 3 of the 2017 U23 Finn World Championships below: 

The left side paid with those starting at the pin in the leading group. Joan Cardona Mendez, from Spain, rounded first from Muller and Kalafarski, who started at the boat end. The main group went right on the run, which allowed Kalafarski to sneak through to leeward and round the gate ahead. He locked into the lifting shift up the second beat and was untouchable from then on, holding a nice lead at the top and down to the finish in the gradually fading wind.

Lars Johan Brodtkorb, from Norway, who had made a great start at the pin, rounded fifth and then caught the leaders on the second upwind to round second, which he just held to the finish from a fast chasing pack. Cardona Mendez crossed in third.

By this point the wind had evaporated in the hot Balaton air, but the race committee persevered and 40 minutes later a new breeze arrived. However it didn’t last long and after one false start, the fleet was sent home soon after.

The single race though meant that the championship is now valid one with four races completed and looking at the forecast for the next few days, that is a relief for the organisers.

Muller commented, “It was a bit tricky. I tried to get off the line clean and the guys who turned out best tacked right off the line and held on port for a long time and from there it was really just staying in pressure and keeping the boat speed up.”

“We finished in quite light breeze and then the wind died off. We had surges of pressure come down and the PRO was really trying to gun for another one.”

“I am really happy how I am sailing and working with Luther [Carpenter, his coach] is fantastic and a really big privilege.”

Kalafarski was clearly pleased with the race win. “I started near to the race committee and going to the right side and later I tacked and went with the front group. I was fourth at the top.”

“I like the light wind, and the weather from today is very good for me. I want tomorrow to be the same. I feel very good, it’s fantastic to win the race.”

One of the new sailors here this week is Guillaume Boisard, from France, now in ninth overall after a 14th today.

“Sailing the Finn was for me one of my biggest ambitions. This boat is technically demanding and I really like its physical dimension. I consider the Finn as one of most interesting boat to sail. A lot of settings and adjustments exist on this boat, and all these little details can make, at the end, a huge difference between good and very good Finn sailors.”

Boisard, now 20 years old, started sailing in Optmist at Aged 7 before moving through the Europe and Laser classes. His best results were runner-up in the Europe Europeans and a fifth in French Laser Nationals.

He now trains with the group at French National Center in La Rochelle. “My last good results will probably help me to get an athlete high level status for the next season, and in this way I could get some financial help.”

He says he really benefits from the very dynamic La Rochelle dynamic Finn fleet and especially the new French training camp called ‘Master Academy’.

“I sail two to four times a week with very good sailors. I want to mention Laurent Hay, recently second at the World Masters in Barbados, I'm very thankful to him because of all the advice he gave me this season.”

“Sometimes Jonathan Lobert and Fabian Pic sail with us, which is very interesting for me. I had a training session with all of them before coming to Balaton. It makes me feel completely confident for this Silver Cup.”

“Light wind is my specialty, and I would like to benefit from the Balaton Lake to make a good performance.” His goal for the week is top 10 overall. “My strategy and tactics bring me to good positions most of the time and further up in the light wind, where I'm often pretty fast. My technique on the downwind is also one of my main strengths.”

He says he is really enjoying the Finn challenge. “The technical dimension of this boat and all these unique feelings we can only get in this boat. For example, I love free pumping, and you can't really find it sailing on other boats, except the Europe class.”

There seems little chance at the moment of any free pumping soon. The championship may be valid, but only four races have been sailed from seven scheduled so far out of a total of 13.

Expectations for a sailable wind on Friday are small. Already the start time has been delayed until 12.00. There is a chance some breeze could develop during the afternoon, but it depends who you listen to and for how long.

Results after 4 races
1 ARG 48 Facundo Olezza 14
2 USA 91 Luke Muller 27
3 GBR 71 Henry Wetherell 29
4 IRL 22 Fionn Lyden 34
5 CZE 5 Ondrej Teply 38
6 FIN 8 Oskari Muhonen 39
7 SWE 11 Johannes Pettersson 42
8 NOR 9 Lars Johan Brodtkorb 43
9 FRA 9 Guillaume Boisard 44
10 ESP 235 Joan Cardona Mendez 50

Full results here

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Baltimore Sailing Club's Fionn Lyden is in the top five of the Finn dinghy under 23 worlds,  the Finn Silver Cup, which started yesterday in Balaton in Hungary.

The move by the 2012 West Cork Laser triallist to the Tokyo 2020 mens heavyweight dinghy shows the depth of his Olympic sailing ambitions.

The talented University College Cork Engineering student counts 11, 4, and 7 to be fourthe from 45 with racing abandoned yesterday due to lack of wind.

Lyden, twice an Afloat.ie Sailor of the Month in 2012 and 2015, made history in 2015 by becoming the first helm to win all races (9) in the Irish Youth Helmsmans Championship, which then entitled him to race in the Seniors, in which he duly won the Silver Medal.

Although clearly one of the most remarkable talents to emerge in Irish sailing in recent years, he has chosen a Corinthian path. Thus most of his efforts and energy over the past few years have been dedicated to study in University College Cork but the move to the Finn is certainly an exciting development that is off to a great start in Hungary.

Despite spending four hours on the water, no more racing was possible at the U23 Finn World Championship at Balatonfüred. The sailors were twice sent out on the water, but both times came back empty handed.

Everyone expected to lose a day or more of racing, but no one expected to lose the second day, which had the second best forecast of the week.

The day began with an AP ashore, which then continued afloat for an hour before the sailors were sent back to shore to wait under a further AP. Finally they were sent back out again as a relativity stable 6-8 knots had settled over the course area. This started to drop and shift as soon as the fleet arrived and despite two attempts to get the race away, at 17.00 the fleet was sent shore again.

Results are here

Published in Tokyo 2020

A 28 and a 32 scored at the 53–boat Finn 2017 European Open Championships leave Ireland's Oisin McClleland from Donaghdee Sailing Club in 29th overall. The Northern Ireland solo sailor is competing at the Yachting Club de la Pointe Rouge, Marseille, France. The competition includes an Under–23 division. 

Ed Wright from Great Britain opened the 2017 Championship with two emphatic race wins after a strong mistral kept the fleet on shore for most of the day. France's Jonathan Lobert was consistent with two fourth places to sit in second, while two fifth places for Anders Pedersen of Norway leaves him in third overnight.

After the practice race was abandoned yesterday, the mistral was still in place for the first full day of racing and though the early indication was that racing would start on time, this was soon rethought as gusts of 37 knots and a very steep sea was recorded on the race area. So the fleet sat on shore under AP under mid afternoon, when finally the wild wind abated slightly, but enough to get some racing underway, though the wind was still topping out at 30 knots.

Each race started with one general recall and then the black flag. The race was really one of two halves: in the starting area big waves and 25 knot winds; at the top mark, 10 knots, flat water and 60 degree shifts, with the windward mark set a few hundred metres of the high ground of L'ile de Pomegues.

The first race was initially led by class veteran Rob McMillan, now of Australia, who had a 30 second lead round the top mark. However his training partner, Wright, had taken the lead on the second upwind to extend down the reaches for his first win of the day, followed by Hungarian Zsombor Berecz and Ben Cornish of Great Britain.

The second race was much the same with the strong winds at the start line giving way to huge random shifts the further the fleet progressed up the course. This time Wright led all the way round, to win from Sweden's Max Salminen and the young Nenad Bugarin from Croatia.

The fleet finally came ashore after 19.00, exhausted, but happy after an awesome day of Finn sailing.

Racing in the opening series continues until Saturday, with the Semi-final and Final scheduled for Saturday afternoon.

Top ten after two races
1. Edward Wright, GBR, 2
2. Jonathan Lobert, FRA, 8
3. Anders Pedersen, NOR, 10
4. Max Salminen, SWE, 11
5. Ben Cornish, GBR, 11
6. Zsombor Berecz, HUN, 12
7. Milan Vujasinovic, CRO, 17
8. Oliver Tweddell, AUS, 19
9. Ioannis Mitakis, GRE, 21
10. Henry Wetherell, GBR, 21

Published in Tokyo 2020

After some stand–out performances in the qualifying rounds of the Trofeo Princesa Sofía in Mallorca this week, Belfast Laser sailor Liam Glynn sailed in the first day of the ultra competitive Gold fleet yesterday. The former Topper World Champion has graduated to the Laser full rig having finished 29th in the Laser Radial Boys World Championships at the Royal St. George YC in Dun Laoghaire last year. He is currently 45th from 60 in gold with more races for the entire 134–boat Laser fleet today.

Equal levels of top consistency proved elusive across the two races for the Laser class, particularly among the top three sailors who all sailed one bogey result today. Spain’s emerging Grand Canaria based Joel Rodriguez is back at the top of the fleet.

The Royal Irish YC sailor Saskia Tidey from Dun Laoghaire who is now sailing with Team GB's Charlotte Dobson lies fifth in the 49erFX. 

A silver fleet finish for all four Irish 49ers in Palma, Mallorca this week is a reminder of the competitiveness of the Olympic sailing circuit and the standard required to secure the single Irish berth for Tokyo in 2020. Results are here

In the Finn class, Donaghdee's Oisin McClleland is 31st from 57.

Published in Tokyo 2020

Giles Scott (GBR) has assured himself of gold after another brilliant performance that leaves him 24 points clear at the top after the fifth day of racing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition. Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) is second, 13 points ahead of Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO). Once again, Rio’s challenging conditions provided a mixed bag of results, with several sailors picking up high scores. There is now just the medal race to sail.

With no clear form through the fleet apart from Scott and Zbogar, it was always going to be a scrap to the finish, with the points around the medal race cut off very, very close. For the fifth day in a row it was all change once again.

After a long postponement, first ashore and then afloat to wait for the wind, Kljakovic Gaspic started his day leading round the top mark in race 9, in very light winds. He was passed on the second upwind by race 1 winner, Facundo Olezza (ARG), who maintained the lead, by mere seconds, all the way to the finish. Alejandro Foglia (URU), who had rounded the top mark in 15th, finally found his speed to cross in third.

Foglia then went on to win Race 10, started in slightly more wind, after overtaking Scott on the final downwind. Caleb Paine (USA) had rounded first but dropped to fourth while Ioannis Mitakis (GRE) ended the race where he started, in third.

To make sure of the gold today, Scott had to gain three points on Zbogar. In the first race of day, he looked to have opened out a nice margin, only to loose ground on the second upwind and finish just one place ahead. But the margin had increased to 18 points and most of his other rivals had high scores.

So in the final race, Scott just had to finish more than two boats ahead of Zbogar to win the gold with a race to spare. For a while Zbogar was right behind Scott, but a few errors on the second upwind let Scott escape, and the gold was gone.

Meanwhile Olezza followed up his race win with a seventh to climb back in to the top 10 again. A last place for Jake Lilley (AUS) in race 9 initially dropped him out of the medal race, after going into the day in third, but after Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) was disqualified from race 10, Lilley gains one point to overtake Ioannis Mitakis (GRE), and was back in the medal race.

In addition, both Paine and Max Salminen (SWE) have closed on the top and are now within striking distance of the podium.

Asked what it meant to him to win the Olympic title, a normally unemotional Scott said, “I know what it meant to me because of the way it made me feel towards the last stages of that final race. I just found myself welling up and in tingles as it slowly dawned on me what I'd done. I wouldn't put myself down as the emotional sort but I had a little cry to myself, which I like to think I don't do that often. Just the emotions that come out of you in that situation you can't prepare yourself for. It's been amazing.”

"When we put the campaign together after London, Matt [Howard], my coach and I we decided that we wanted to campaign flat out. We weren't going to go soft in any regattas and everything we went to, we wanted to win and win it in style.”

"That approach is great but it does put a target on your back. Especially two or three years out that target inevitably gets closer as everybody ups their game. To have been able to maintain that gap enough into the Olympics with a race to spare - it gives great justification to those decisions earlier on.”

A clearly exhausted Zbogar commented, “It was a really difficult day, really stressful because the wind was up and down. Puffs of wind were all over the race area and it was impossible to predict, so very tough mentally. I tried to be conservative playing the middle, and I lost a few places there in both races. But at the end I think I managed to have two good races, which was really good in these conditions.”

“In the first race if there were not the big waves, it would have been easy sailable, but the waves made it almost impossible. It was up and down and was a bit of a lottery at the end. And many guys were ahead and in a few moments lost everything.”

Foe the first time in the regatta, Kljakovic Gaspic has moved into a podium position. “The first race was quite light, but for me was regular. There were big differences in the downwind in pressure and positions so it was not easy to sail. I was lucky being extended on the front so I didn’t have this headache, but for other guys it was quite tough.”

“The second one was tragic for me. I was just getting extra points for nothing and making my life more complicated that it should have been. Right from the start everything started to get complicated and when racing gets complicated it’s never good. And then the wind picked up and distances got that much bigger and it got harder to recover. On the second beat I went on the left side to get more pressure and it didn’t come, and lost even more places.” He finished 13th.

“But at the end of the day I am still in a good position. I need to sleep and relax and get ready for Tuesday.”

Scott still must sail the medal race, but the result is irrelevant. He cannot be beaten. Mathematically, any boat in the top 10 can win a medal, but that would need some letter scores. Zbogar is almost secure for a medal. To lose a medal, he would have to be last, with Paine or Max Salminen (SWE) winning. Kljakovic Gaspic in third, is just five points ahead of Paine and Salminen, so the question is will he attack for silver or try to defend the bronze?

The medal race is scheduled for 13.05 on Tuesday 16 July. It might even be on TV, if you are lucky.

Published in Olympic
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If Finn sailors are looked upon as the giants of the sailing world, then Oisin Mcclelland (IRL) is a giant among Finn sailors writes Robert Deaves. At his second and final Finn Silver Cup this week in Aarhus he is using the event as a marker to assess his progress since he first stepped into the Finn just over a year ago. His plan is then to step up his campaign to qualify Ireland for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and return to Aarhus in two years time for the first Olympic qualification event.

Oisin Mcclelland was always going to be a big man. “I started in the Laser at 16 and was quickly into the standard rig and soon ended up too big for a large part of my standard sailing. I jumped into the Finn last year – the 2015 Silver Cup was my first event. It was a baptism of fire but since then I have spent the last eight months training full time in the Finn at the Dinghy Academy in Valencia.”

He says the Finn was a natural fit to his physical size and intense physicality. “It always looked to me to be the boat I’d fit into because at my height I wouldn’t be the right weight for the Laser, and also the physicality of the boat was always an attraction. The guys at the top are some of the fittest athletes about and that’s really good motivation for those of us coming through. It’s cool to watch them and race against them.”

Oisin Mcclelland FinnOisin Mcclelland Finn – 'Every time I get in the Finn it’s a pleasure to sail' Photo: Robert Deaves

This year he sailed his first major Finn events, the Europeans in Barcelona, the Princesa Sofia in Palma and the World Championships in Gaeta. “It’s been a huge learning curve but I feel like I have made progress and it was absolutely the right decision.”

Now he is making plans and looking further into the future. “Obviously the goal is to get to Tokyo representing Ireland. It’s great to be in Aarhus this week because it’s going to be the first real test to see if we can get a spot for the Games. The big goal at the moment to be in the best shape for that, and hopefully qualify yourself first time. So the next four years are going to be the most important time in the sport for many of us here.”

Oisin McClelland vital statistics:

Age – 22 • Weight – 100 kg • Height - 198cm

 

He feels like he is making good progress towards that goal. “At the moment after 12 months in the boat I feel like a lot of things are coming together and I am looking for a couple of good results in the coming season.”

“I have had a lot of support from the RYA NI and the Irish association. And they have been guiding me for the last 6-8 months. I also received a bit of help from the Mary Peters Trust in Northern Ireland. They are a charity that helps local athletes and sportsmen, and they have been a really big help and through their Make it Happen fund I got some money and it got me through to the end of the season this year and enabled me to get to the big events.”

Mcclelland is also part of the FINNTEAM, a funding programme of the International Finn Association to develop young sailors. “We’ll see where that ends up but it’s definitely good for promotion.”

“When I jumped into the Finn in Valencia you were surrounded by guys who had already qualified for the Games, so there was a real intensity going as they geared up for Rio and that gives you an insight into what you have to do get to Tokyo in four years time.”

“The guys there have been beyond helpful and that’s really accelerated the learning curve. I feel like I am making big jumps.”

He hopes to return to Aarhus several times before the 2018 Sailing World Championship. “The goal would be to get to Aarhus as much as possible as possible over the next two years. As we’ve seen here this week there is a lot to learn. It’s definitely going to be a challenge but it’s a great place to sail.”

Due to his size he’s always had an advantage in the breezy conditions. “It’s definitely one of my strengths, but I don’t like to see myself as a heavy weather sailor because then you end up just focussing on that. So currently one of my main focuses is the lighter winds, the right setup, the techniques I need. If I can hold on in the lighter stuff I know when the breeze comes in I stand a good chance of being around the front of the fleet.”

The main attraction for him is the daily challenge. “Every day I am in the boat it’s a challenge. Whether it’s light or windy, it’s either in your head or improving your physicality, and in the breezy stuff like yesterday, it’s a brilliant boat. Every time I get in the boat it’s a pleasure to sail. Also you’ll see in the results this week the calibre of the fleet – they are all mixing it with the top of the senior fleet as well so to come here for a junior event and have this high calibre in the fleet is incredible. You are not given an inch by anybody and having to fight for every position.”

“This time last year when I stepped into the Finn for the first time, Tokyo was there on the board as the dream goal and the plan was laid out. I think if I execute that plan properly, I‘ll see myself there in four years time.”

Published in Olympic
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A new youth initiative from the British Finn class has been established to enable aspiring young sailors make the transition from local fleets to international competition by providing a range of training and funding opportunities. This past week the GAC Pindar sponsored U23 squad have been training at the Weymouth & Portland Sailing Academy, ahead of next month’s U23 Finn World Championship in Aarhus, Denmark.

The U23 squad consists of six sailors between the ages of 16 and 19 and is coached by former British Sailing Team member James Hadden. The inspiration for the project came from the British Finn Association (BFA) trying to provide a structured pathway for young sailors who outgrow classes such as the Laser (more than 90kg) to continue into the Finn class at a high level.

The BFA squad provides the U23 squad with training and various funding to compete at a limited number of events, with the key objective being to achieve high-level results at the Under 23 World Championship. For the successful sailors it also represents a possible route into the national team.

The 2016 squad has been formed with six sailors: Jack Arnell (18), Markus Bettum (19), Callum Dixon (16), Matt Stevens (19), Joe Stocker (18) and Cameron Tweedle (17).

The sailors come from a diverse range of sailing backgrounds, are from 92 to 110 kg in weight, and around 190-200 cm in height. All are too big to sail anything else at this level and are committed to the programme that the BFA has established. All of them have at least four more years at U23 level – the youngest has eight years – so there is plenty of scope to develop and create the champions of the future.

Last week in Weymouth the squad had a great week of training and sailing in a mix of conditions, and were joined by some of the National Team. It proved great preparation for July’s Finn Silver Cup (the U23 World Championship) in Denmark at which all six will compete alongside two British Sailing Team sailors, Henry Wetherell and Hector Simpson, in a fleet of around 40 of the world’s best young Finn sailors.

James Hadden said of the week, “The training camp was all about preparing for the Under 23 Worlds. We spent the week working on improving speed, and continuing their fitness development. We were lucky to have the British Sailing Team Podium Potential squad members join in for the week as well so the lads got a chance to line up against some experienced fast sailors, like Pete McCoy. It was encouraging to see the lads were pushing the PP sailors hard all week in a variety of conditions. The team are already very close and work really well with each other.”

Bettum says he learned a lot from the training camp and that he expects to benefit enormously from being included in the squad. “I thought the training camp was extremely beneficial for me. I got to work on all my weak points and got to train in a fantastic and friendly environment, which definitely sped up the learning process. The coaching was very high quality and I got plenty of attention, which helped me to improve.”

“I think the programme as a whole is fantastic and it offers a great path for young sailors who are too heavy for other classes. I think I will keep on improving with the help of this programme and I'm sure other young British sailors will as well.”

Recently, the squad underwent a physical assessment from Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR strength and conditioning team. The squad were joined by their coach James Hadden and the U23 programme coordinator, Ray New, at the impressive BAR headquarters in Portsmouth, UK.

The young sailors were each put through five separate tests for nearly two hours, each designed to test their Finn specific fitness. The sailors received a detailed assessment of their physical condition with pointers on areas to concentrate on. The fitness team also works closely with Giles Scott, so know exactly the strengths and techniques required by top Finn sailors and passed on invaluable training tips to the U23 squad.

"The visit to BAR was fantastic both in terms of learning and improving physically but also as an inspiration; it is a great privilege to be invited to train at the gym for the day and also too meet some of the team," commented Tweedle.

Arnell said, "It was such a nice day to go down to team BAR, and it was great to see the guys again. I thought the training was tough but really enjoyed the effort. I learned that it is such an explosive sport and I have taken lots from the fitness test - overall I really enjoyed myself.”

Hadden added, “The fitness testing at BAR certainly helped as a team building exercise as well.”

BFA Chairman John Heyes said youth development is a key aim of the Finn class. “It was my stated ambition when elected that we should develop our young Finn sailors. Whilst some youngsters are lucky enough to be fast-tracked into the RYA development squads directly from their youth classes, others are not so fortunate and find it hard to gain the necessary international competition to break through to the next level. We discussed our plans with the RYA Finn coaches who were very supportive and promised to keep an eye on any rising stars for inclusion in the National Team."

“I am really pleased that we have top coaching support from James Hadden, while GAC Pindar have generously supported the team with technical clothing from Zhik, who also kindly provided additional sponsorship.”

“Hopefully the scheme will grow and will encourage and support more young athletes sailing the Finn.”

In addition, the BFA provides a grant of £500 each for the top two U23 sailors in the British Travellers Trophy Series, which is largely funded by selling Personal Sail Numbers to the wider fleet. An application has also been made for a Sport England grant to obtain a one-time grant to fund the 2017 programme, which will begin as soon as the 2016 U23 World Championship is complete.

The programme is being coordinated by Ray New of the British Finn Association and any U23 sailors interested in sailing a Finn should contact [email protected]

Published in Youth Sailing
Tagged under

Circolo Vela Torbole tonight welcomed more than 355 Finn sailors from 32 countries for the opening ceremony of the 2016 Finn World Masters. There are Finns and Finn sailors everywhere you look, spread along the shore all the way between Torbole and Riva. Before the opening ceremony, the practice races were held in near perfect conditions with more than 250 Finns taking to the water to sample Garda's glacial waters.

Lanfranco Cirillo (RUS), who is sponsoring the event through his Fantastica Sailing Team, as well as sailing in the championship, spoke about the spirit of the Finn class and Finn sailors worldwide, an Olympic class for all, for the strongmen of the sailing world. “The Finn is not just a boat it is a lifestyle.” Not many present tonight would disagree with his sentiments.

Uppermost in everyone's mind though is that this event in Torbole is making history. The previous record of 273 entries has been far surpassed, though the forecast for the week has reduced the entry list from its previous higher numbers.

Sunshine and showers have been the predominant themes so far with lake Garda is not yet showing the conditions that it is famed for. Many of those who arrived early spent time watching a windless lake through the rain, while enjoying Italian hospitality.

The hope is that conditions will improve through the week, and certainly the practice races on Sunday produced the best conditions for the past week with sunshine and 14-18 knots of Ora marking a spectacular precursor to an event the fleet has spent two years looking forward to.

Even though the club is rather congested the sailors are making the most of meeting old and making new friends from across the world. For some The Finn Masters is their only event of the year.

Regardless of the damp conditions tonight, spirits are high, especially with the much awaited free bottle of Fantastica Sailing Team labelled wine for everyone from Cirillo, promised when he presented the bid to host the event two years ago. Finn sailors have long memories.

For some it is a first visit to Garda, for many it is a return to a hallowed sailing ground, but the interest of an event in Garda was always high. The fleet is now looking forward to a great week of racing. Eight races are scheduled from Monday to Friday, with a medal race for the top sailors on Friday.

Under the cliffs at the northern end of Lake Garda, four starts were arranged on Sunday to give the race team and sailors some practice. Colour groups didn't seem to matter much with a huge fleet starting on the first gun, eager to get the practice done and negotiate the tricky landing to head to the bar. From Monday, the 355 Finns will sail in four colour groups on two course areas. It will be some spectacle.

Competitors in Torbole include many former Olympians and many former champions. Increasing numbers of sailors are returning to the class for the great competition that it offers and the standard is rising every year. The defending champion is Vladimir Krutskikh (RUS), but he will have a tough job retaining the title with many new first time Masters, who have trained hard for this event.

Keeping with tradition is as much a part of the Finn class as great competition. The tradition within the Finn class is that once a Finn sailor, always a Finn sailor. And to prove just that, the 2016 Finn World Masters has attracted 33 Legends, those over 70 years old, who just can't seem to give it up. They are an inspiration to the fleet and proof, if any was needed, that Finn sailing remains a sport for life, as well as a lifestyle.

Published in Olympic
Tagged under
Page 4 of 6

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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