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Irish Rio 2016 veteran Finn Lynch opened his Sailing World Championship series in the Laser dinghy class with a sixth place as he bids to qualify Ireland for a place in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

The National Yacht Club single-hander is competing in one of three flights of 55 boats each ahead of splits into Gold, Silver and Bronze fleets next week at Aarhus, Denmark. 

In his second race of the day, Lynch hit the 'pin-end' mark on the starting line and was obliged to take penalty turns that left him behind the fleet and in dirty air. However, in an indication of his potential, he clawed back up the ranks to place 16th by the race finish.

"Liam Glynn had a tough start to his series"

Meanwhile, Lynch's rival for the Laser berth in Tokyo, Liam Glynn from Ballyholme Yacht Club, had a tough start to his series in the Laser class after a bad start and he placed 45th. However, he followed with a 22nd in race two and the forecast of light and shifty conditions - his preferred conditions - on Saturday is a prospect that he is relishing. 

Ireland's Laser Radial women also started their series with Aoife Hopkins from Howth YC scoring 33rd and 35th in her 60-boat flight. Aisling Keller from Lough Derg YC had a 49th and 41st in the same group.

The single-handed Finn fleet had a gruelling day afloat as the class caught up on their missed race from Thursday and sailed three races for Day 2 of the event in slightly stronger winds of up to Force 4 in the afternoon.

Baltimore Sailing Club's Fionn Lyden started the day with a 14th place followed by a 28th place that he discards and then a 24th. He shares the Blue flight of 45 boats with Oisin McClelland of Donaghadee SC who had a 33rd (discarded) then a 23rd and a 28th for the day 

The full Irish line-up of 14 sailors will be in action on Saturday when the 49er skiff event gets underway. Ireland is fielding four crews in the Mens' event that includes double Olympic veteran Ryan Seaton from Ballyholme, now sailing with Seafra Guilfoyle from the Royal Cork YC.

Also competing in the 105-boat 49er world championship event are Sean and Tadgh Donnelly of the National YC, Robert Dickson from Howth YC with Sean Waddilove from Skerries SC, Mark Hassett from Baltimore SC with Oisin O'Driscoll from Schull Harbour SC.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Ireland's Olympic Silver medalist Annalise Murphy (28) will not contest August's World Sailing Championships in Denmark where 40% of Tokyo Olympic places are up for grabs.

Howth Yacht Club's Aoife Hopkins (19) will now automatically be offered Ireland's first Laser Radial place at the Danish event in Aarhus.

According to the Olympic Team Manager James O'Callaghan, the National Yacht Club ace has opted not to take the place as she decided she would not have enough time between finishing her Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) commitments and delivering 'a result she would be proud of'.

Last August, Murphy put her Tokyo plans on hold with the original intention of making the 2018 World Championships following the conclusion of the Volvo Ocean Race in June.

Murphy withdrew from the 2017 Radial World championships citing a knee injury sustained while sailing in Italy. She also withdrew from the Test Event in Aarhus in 2017 as a result of the same injury.

The Irish team for Aarhus is Finn Lynch in the Laser Standard, Hopkins in the Radial, and Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle in the 49er. O'Callaghan expects Ireland could secure at least two Tokyo berths. 

Subsequent to World Sailing's original allocation of nation places, Ireland applied for and has received extra places based on World Ranking points. Three further 49er skiff places have been granted and now there are places too both for Aisling Keller and Liam Glynn in the Laser classes.

Details of Ireland's Tokyo 2020 prospects are discussed in an Afloat.ie podcast with the team manager here.

Published in Tokyo 2020

Irish Olympic Laser campaigners Finn Lynch of the National Yacht Club and Liam Glynn of Ballyholme Yacht Club will face a fleet of 183 and all three Rio medallists when they start racing at a bumper 49th Trofeo Princesa Sofía Iberostar in Palma today, the first test of new Laser coach for Ireland, Vasilij Žbogar.

In a large turnout across the Olympic sailing classes for Ireland, previewed in full here, Aisling Keller in the Laser Radial will also meet Dutch 2016 gold medallist Marit Bouwmeester who took silver in London racing her first major regatta of this year.

'Racing kicks off at 11.00 today. 180 lasers entered! It should be a great week! says Lynch on the eve of the regatta while Glynn admits it's likely to be 'a tough week ahead racing 180 of the world's top sailors, but determined to start the racing season on a high'.

Following last year's post-Olympic entry of 634 boats and 842 sailors the expected spike in numbers continues an underlying upward trend. Entries last year were 10% ahead of where they were in 2013, that was immediately post London, and in 2017 were more than 20% ahead of 2009, post Beijing.

"The regatta this year is bigger than four years ago and so from the sports point of view is in a good position." highlights the event's manager Ferran Muniesa, "But the most important thing is what the sailors say to us all the time, that feel really comfortable at this event and that is important. They are our clients and we are seeking to give the best possible service to them."

The direct effects for the local economy are significant during tourism's realtively low season. A recent impact survey accounted for a income of around €4.5m to the local economy spread over the month prior to the event and during competition week.

Muniesa adds, " Long term locally what we really want is to show to the people of Mallorca and to the government of the Balearic Islands that this is an event which does a great promotion around the world for Mallorca and creates a significant impact - not only in terms of image but the economic impact is important because of course this happens low season. "

He adds,  " From today we start the campaign to reduce the plastics and to educate and engage the sailors to tell them that they are the first ones that can set an example to everyone. That is why with our sponsors Iberostar and Marinepool and the Foundation One Earth One Ocean we are trying to see how we can help. This is a long term vision and this year we get started."

To sailors on all stages of their Olympic journey the lure of these Balearic waters remains as strong as ever. The event is renowned for pleasant sunshine, consistent, reliable spring breezes, excellent race management and it also holds the opportunity to put in several weeks of pre-regatta training in - usually - sunshine and a variety of winds.

With two years now until the 2020 Tokyo Olympics the 49th Trofeo Princesa Sofía Iberostar regatta is an almost essential fixture. No fewer than 17 sailing medallists who stood on the Olympic podium in Rio in 2016 will compete against dozens of previous Olympic medallists and World and European Champions. But the event is a fascinating melting pot where young talent can emerge and impress at one of their first big stage Olympic multi class events.

"It is wonderfully organised with a great atmosphere ashore but on the water there is a nice air of, well, anarchy. Here you often find loads of young guys and girls here to prove themselves and really push everything hard. And so for us, and others like us, this is always a chance to try new things, different equipment or tecniques, to work on things as for us the outcome is not critical." summarises the 2012 470 Olympic silver medallist Luke Patience with a trademark grin.

That said the 49th Trofeo Princesa Sofía Iberostar regatta marks the start of the journey for country qualification for Japan leading up to this season's World Championships of Aarhus.

The all time participation record sees eight regatta courses due to be operated across the Bay of Palma with starts and finishes almost continuously through each day. Target schedule for the Laser, RS: X and Finn is 10 races over in five days, while the Nacra 17, 49er and 49er FX have 15 races scheduled. Then, next Saturday, April 7, the decisive Medal Races for each classes should determine the overall podiums.

Who's Who? More than 20 Rio Medallists.....

In the Men's 470 Class Miami winners Patience and Chris Grube will be up against Australia's 2017 world champions and 2016 Olympic silver medallists Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan who won here two years ago and Rio bronze medallists Greece's Mantis Panagiotis and Pavlos Kagialis.

Rio gold medal winning helm in the 470 fleet Hannah Mills competes with Eilidh McIntyre with whom she finished runner up at the World Championship. Similarly France's Camille Lecointre who sails now with Aloise Retornaz won Olympic bronze in Rio.

British crews have achieved something of a domination in the 49er class even if medals have proven elusive at recent Olympics. Dylan Fletcher-Scott and Olympic 470 silver medal winning crew Stu Bithell are current world champions and won gold at the Sailing World Cup Miami in January. Germany's Olympic bronze medal winner Thomas Ploessel now races in a new partnership with Justus Schmidt. The young Spanish duo Diego Botin and Iago L. Marra finished runners up in Miami and were second here last year behind the British winners James Peters and Fynn Sterrit who sadly miss the chance to repeat their success because of a last minute injury to crew Sterrit.

In 49er FX the New Zealanders Alexandra Maloney and Molly Meech and the Danish duo Jena Mai Hansen and Katja Steen Salskov-Iversen start among the favourites. Maloney and Meech won Olympic silver in Rio while Hansen and Salskov-Iverson hold Olympic bronze from 2016 and lifted the world champions title in 2017.

The Finn class is perhaps one of the hardest to call. GBR's recently crowned European Champion Ed Wright is up against Rio gold and silver medal winners Giles Scott (GBR) and Caleb Paine (USA) along with the Swede Max Salminen who is world champion.

The Laser fleet is the biggest at the regatta with 183 registered boats and all three Rio medallists are racing here. Outstanding favourite appears to be Tom Burton, gold winner in Rio 2016, world championship runner up and the class winner at the Sailing World Cup Miami. Croatia's Tonci Stipanovic took silver in Rio and New Zealand's 2016 bronze medallist Sam Meech won the first of the 2018 Sailing World Cup events in Japan.

The Laser Radial class is 117 strong with the Dutch 2016 gold medallist Marit Bouwmeester who took silver in London racing her first major regatta of this year. She holds the aces as World and European Champion. Denmark's Anne Marie Rindom is the bronze medallist in Rio, winner of the first regatta of the 2018 Sailing World Cup and finished third here when she last raced in 2016. Great Britain's Alison Young, the 2016 world champion, comfortably triumphed at the Sailing World Cup regatta in January.

In the Nacra 17 the introduction of foils has opened up the class again forcing a new style of sailing to be learned. Argentines Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza, the Olympic champions in Rio 2016 are on that learning curve and have yet to replicate their Rio success on foils. World Champions are GBR's Ben Saxton and Nicola Boniface, the first world title winners on foils, who were sixth here last year. The Nacra 17 also features Austria's bronze medallists Thomas Zajac and Barbara Matz while Spain's Fernando Fernando Echávarri and Tara Pacheco are 2017 world championship runners up.

The men's boards are the only class in which none of the medallists of the last Olympic Games are present at the 49th Trofeo Princesa Sofía Iberostar. Poland completed the double last year when Pawel Tarnowski won the Men's RS:X, following up from his second in 2016. World Champion Bing Le leads a strong Chinese contingent as does Women's World Champion Pei Na Chen in the female fleet. Spain's London 2012 gold medallist Marina Alabau has finished fourth twice here.

The Trofeo Princesa Sofía Iberostar has signed a collaboration agreement with the One Earth - One Ocean foundation to help protect the oceans and coastal waters. The initiatives begin at this edition, by reducing the use of plastics and by collecting waste from the sea and the beach. In addition, the organization has distributed to all the on the water personnel and participating coaches a device to prevent of fuel and oil going in the sea from the RIB’s engine.

Published in Tokyo 2020

A recurring case of tonsillitis rules out Howth Yacht Club  Laser ace Aoife Hopkins from this week's Princess Sofia regatta in Palma. 

"I'm really gutted to have to announce that I will not be competing", Hopkins told Afloat. 

Over the last three weeks Hopkins says she hasn't been able to recover in time to either train or race.

"This has been incredibly frustrating as Palma was where I was looking forward to putting winter training to the test and applying the lessons learned in Miami".

Hopkins expects to contest the Senior Europeans in May.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Ireland's Olympic Laser sailing team has a new multi–medal winning Slovenian coach but will he boost Finn Lynch's upwind speed in a breeze? Is Annalise Murphy going to swap her world–girdling adventures for a chance of Tokyo gold anytime soon? The answer to these questions and the prospects of Irish Olympic Sailing campaigns are discussed by High Performance Director James O'Callaghan in the Afloat.ie podcast below.

In ten Olympic sailing disciplines, Ireland will contest four at the World Sailing Championships in Aarhaus this August where over 100 nations are racing for 40% of Tokyo Olympic Games berths.

With five months to go to that big event, O'Callaghan gives an overview of just what is required to win an Olympic berth at the first opportunity and concludes he'd be 'happy' to see Ireland secure two Olympic spots in Denmark. 

Listen in to the podcast below.

Laser – Finn Lynch | Liam Glynn | Ewan McMahon | Johnny Durcan

Liam glynnFormer Topper World Champion Liam Glynn is chasing Olympic nomination in the Laser. A top 25 of the Mens Laser fleet will be required for Olympic Qualification in Aarhaus Photo: Facebook

In something of a 'coup' for team Ireland, Irish Sailing has appointed a new Olympic medal winning Slovenian coach to assist Finn Lynch's quest for improved heavy weather upwind speed. After this Summer's Leaving Certificate, the Rio Laser helmsman will have more Irish company on the circuit too. Howth's Ewan McMahon, Royal Cork's Johnny Durcan are scheduled to join Lynch and Belfast's Liam Glynn in a new Irish mens Laser training group under star coach, Vasilij Žbogar.

Radial – Annalise Murphy | Aoife Hopkins | Aisling Keller

Annalise murphy sailing VORAfter sailing round the world in the Volvo Ocean Race, Annalise Murphy's stated return to the Radial is much anticipated. Photos: Facebook

Aoife HopkinsAoife Hopkins during fitness testing at the Sport Ireland Institute. Photo: Facebook

Is it certain Olympic Silver medalist Annalise Murphy will be back to campaign for Tokyo? Murphy is currently sailing in the 'life changing' Volvo Ocean Race but O'Callaghan says the National Yacht Club star is expected to return Radial duty this Summer. The Rio star can expect some home competition this quadrennial from recently carded sailors Aoife Hopkins and Aisling Keller, both embarking on brand new campaigns post Leaving Cert.

Ryan seaton Seafra guilfoyleRyan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle training in Palma this week. Photo: Facebook

49er – Ryan Seaton & Seafra Guilfoyle

There have been setbacks for the 49er pairing of Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle – including a cycling accident but the expectation is that 2018 can produce results under a new coach. A top ten overall to qualify in Aarhaus will be a tough prospect but it's nothing Belfast's Seaton hasn't done before in his build–up to London and Rio. Meanwhile, Irish Sailing's 49er Development team have all been training in Palma in advance of the Princesca Sofia Regatta there this week. 

Finn – Oisin McClelland | Fionn Lyden

Oisinisin McClelland

A question mark may hang over its future Olympic status but that's not stopping two Irish campaigns from securing a mens heavyweight berth in Tokyo. Oisin McClelland from Donaghdee is currently racing for European Honours in Cadiz while illness rules out Baltimore's Fionn Lyden this week.  As the only Olympic class that is not mixed-gender, the heavyweight Finn dinghy is looking most likely for the chop when World Sailing decides on its Paris 2024 fleets later this year. The response at this week’s Finn Euros has been the launch of the #myfutureisinyourhands campaign, with Ireland’s now sole entry, Oisín McClelland, posting on Facebook: “The future of Olympic sailing looks set to eliminate anyone over 6ft and 85kgs. Plenty of Finn sailors are upset about it.” Not that the Donaghdee star is leaving his Tokyo 2020 fate in the hands of others — as his bright start on Day 1 of the Cadiz regatta proved. 

Published in Tokyo 2020

The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) has announced Peter Sherrard as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective May 2018.

Sherrard joins the OCI from the Football Association of Ireland where he is Operations Director with responsibility for International Team Operations and Match Operations.

Sherrard has held a number of management positions during his career including Market Manager for Ryanair in Italy, Head of Communications at Ryanair, Director of Communications at the FAI, Interim Commercial Director at the FAI, and his current position, Operations Director at the FAI, which he has held since 2014. In this role he is responsible for International Team Operations and Match Operations and was responsible for team preparations at UEFA EURO 2016. Originally from Newcastle Co Down and a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, he is a fluent French and Italian speaker having lived and worked in both countries and he has ten years of experience within Irish Sport.

Commenting on Mr Sherrard’s appointment, the President of the OCI Ms Sarah Keane said:

“We are very pleased that we have been successful in attracting a person of the calibre and experience of Peter to the Olympic Council of Ireland. His hands on experience and leadership skills will be of great value to us as we continue to pursue our athlete centred programme of reform. With the recent launch of our new strategy Peter is starting at a time of real growth and development for the Olympic movement in Ireland. He will lead our journey towards making a real difference and adding significant value to Irish Olympic sport. Irish Olympians inspire the Nation and we want to enhance and support our athletes, coaches, and Federations to deliver on their Olympic goals, dreams and ambitions. On behalf of the Board and staff of the OCI we look forward to working with Peter to deliver for our athletes, Member Federations and the Irish sporting public into the future.”

Speaking on the announcement of his appointment today Peter Sherrard said;

“I am delighted to have been appointed CEO at this exciting time of growth and change at the OCI. I look forward to working with the Board and staff of the OCI to build on the good work of the past 12 months. I share the Board’s commitment to placing athletes and Federations at the centre of everything we do at the OCI. With the Winter Games currently underway in Pyeongchang and the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo fast approaching I am committed to working with Team Ireland and our partners to help deliver world class support for our athletes.”

Published in Tokyo 2020

Some decisions and the sentiment expressed at World Sailing’s 2017 Conference recently suggest that the door might be opening for offshore sailing to become an Olympic sailing event.

Submission 108 presented by the World Sailing Board, and passed by the Council, greenlights the establishment of an Offshore World Championship in one-design boats. The submission gives credence to the proposal made to the International Olympic Committee to hold an Offshore “Showcase” event at the Tokyo 2020 Games.

Noboru Kobayashi of the Japanese Sailing Federation, speaking to the submission, suggested a 300 mile offshore course starting close to the Olympic Marina in Tokyo Bay and finishing in Enoshima just west of Tokyo.

While there is much detail to be discussed, it is believed that the format will allow for a two-handed, mixed gender crew sailing in supplied one-designs with the Figaro Beneteau 3 being mentioned as a potential class.

If given the go-ahead, the showcase event would likely take place immediately prior to the Games themselves, and, if deemed successful, could become a full medal event in 2024.

Published in Offshore

The racing format for Annalise Murphy's bid for an Olympic Gold medal has been settled at last week's World Sailing Conference in Mexico.

It will almost certainly see Ireland's Olympic Slver Medalist from the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire break from her Volvo Ocean Race campaign next May to win a place for Ireland on the Laser Radial Tokyo startline at the 2018 Sailing World Championships, the principal Olympic Sailing qualification event.

The Men's and Women's 470, Finn, Laser and Laser Radial will all sail an opening series which will be followed by a double point Medal Race.

As well as Murphy, at least three other Irish Radial Sailors will seek Tokyo selection, including top performing Aoife Hopkins of Howth Yacht Club. Also campaigning is Aisling Keller of Lough Derg and Sally Bell of Belfast Lough. In the Mens Laser division, Rio rep Finn Lynch is likely to face a challenge for the single Tokyo berth by Belfast's Liam Glynn, Howth's Ewan McMahon and Royal Cork's Johnny Durcan. 

Flashes facing StarboardAnnalise Murphy training on her beloved Dublin Bay Photo: Terry McDonagh

Men's and Women's RS:X sailors will also sail an opening series and a double point Medal Race, however when the wind conditions suit planing, they will have a reaching start and finish.

World Sailing's Council had a discussion and debate on the 49er and 49erFX Medal Race format. The Events Committee proposed that three single point races on the final day shall be sailed with the use of boundaries at the discretion of the Race Committee. Ireland currently has up to five 49er campaigns vying for a single Tokyo slot.

Council voted against the proposal and the 49er and 49erFX fleets will now sail an opening series and a single double points Medal Race.

The Council also noted that the Nacra 17 format had not been fully tested but it's expected they will retain their current opening series and a single double points Medal Race.

Olympic Qualification System for the Tokyo 2020 Sailing Regatta

The qualification system for Tokyo 2020 was also approved by World Sailing's Council. The Aarhus 2018 Sailing World Championships will be the principal qualification event.

Places will be available at the 2018 Asian Games, 2019 Pan-Am Games and 2019 World Championships. Further places will be available at continental events.

The qualification system will now be reviewed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and all International Federation qualification systems will be approved by the IOC Executive Board in February 2018.

Published in Tokyo 2020

In the first Irish Finn battle on the road to Tokyo 2020, Donaghdee's Oisin McClelland lead race one to the first mark of the Finn Gold Cup in Hungary yesterday. The sensational Irish start marks the start of a three year race between Northern Ireland's McClelland and Afloat's Sailor of the Month Fionn Lyden of Baltimore in West Cork, who won bronze at the U–23 World Finn Championships at the same Lake Balaton venue last week.

After two races sailed, Lyden lies 30th and McClleland 49th. Download results below.

As Robert Deaves of the Finn class writes Nenad Bugarin, from Croatia, is the early leader at Balatonföldvár. Two very tricky races in shifty and patchy conditions left much of the fleet with at least one high score, but home favourite, Zsombor Berecz is second, with Piotr Kula, from Poland, in third. Ed Wright, from Britain, won the first race, while Bugarin won the second.

The time for preparation had ended and it was time to race. In the end 113 Finns made it to the start line for some tight and tricky racing with the wind shifting hugely and varying from 10-16 knots.

Jonathan Lobert, from France, was second at the top and briefly took the lead downwind, before the right side came past in more pressure. But it was Wright, who led through the gate and extended up the second beat with a nice lead.

The right side came in strong on the second beat with Anders Pedersen, from Norway, coming through into second. The fleet closed up on Wright on the final downwind as the search for pressure became paramount. Lobert came through for second at the finish, while Berecz passed some boats to cross third.

There were huge pressure changes across the course, as well as wind shifts to cope with, and with such a large fleet the leverage from left to right was massive. If Race 1 was hard enough race 2, was about to get a whole lot harder.

Race 2 was started without Oscar, though it was raised at the top mark as the wind passed 10 knots. The corners were strong with those who bailed out of the left early struggling at the top. Facundo Olezza, from Argentina, rounded first from Deniss Karpak, from Estonia and Bugarin.

Karpak had been third for a while in the first race but had got lost on the second beat and dropped 20 places. In the second race he was good enough to hold his position and the top three boats separated from the fleet. Bugarin sailed well to take the lead on the second upwind and then sailed away from the fleet for a comfortable win, from Olezza and Karpak.

Lobert, the current European Champion, ended the day in fifth overall, and was happy with his day, despite a 15th in the second race.

“It’s hard to say what to do today. It was just ‘where is the wind’? I was just trying to use what I had and make the best of it.”

“In the first race we didn’t tack so much as they were quite big gusts and big shifts, but in the second race it was very tricky. I think there were two winds, one from the right and sometimes one was coming from the left so you had to be at the right place when the wind was coming in. I was a bit unlucky at the beginning but at the end the left came back and it was a good call.”

Fourth placed Max Salminen, from Sweden, said, “I think the fleet was really keen to get racing, and we saw that at the start of the first race, but once we got away we had a really good race. It was shifty as we expected and back and forth and you had to be on your toes all the time – but that's lake sailing.”

“I think in this big fleet and in these conditions you have to be happy with what you get.”

The pressure on the race area is matched by the local pressure placed on the shoulders of Berecz, who delighted local supporters to end the day in second overnight.

“In the first race I was always in the front. The second was a bit tougher for me as I missed one shift at the very last quarter of the first upwind and I put myself back into about 40th. But on the second upwind I gained it all back and managed to finish sixth, so a good day for me.”

Asked whether local knowledge gave him an advantage, “I don’t know this water at all. I know the other side much more. I was only sailing here when I was in Optimists, but actually around the lake it’s all the same in this wind direction. It’s very tricky, changing every two minutes or so, so let’s say I am quite used to it.”

Any secrets? “We can say there is a tendency in the wind and if you can find it and you can use it your way, then you can succeed.”

But the undisputed star of the first day was Bugarin. A fourth and a first is a great performance on a challenging day.

“I managed to have two good races. I did well all the time. It was tricky outside and my strategy was just to stay in clear air all the time and have the freedom to tack. That’s pretty much it.”

“Before the starts I didn’t have a vision of what to do and the strategy was just to sail fast in clear air and I managed to do that two times and had really good speed upwind and downwind, so I am pretty happy after the first day.”

As one old and wise coach offered today, that in conditions like these, you are either very good or very unlucky. The good and the unlucky enjoyed a pizza party after racing and can look forward to two more races on Tuesday in slightly less wind but probably at least the same amount of trickiness.

Racing continues Tuesday at 10.00.

Results after two races
1 CRO 52 Nenad Bugarin 5
2 HUN 40 Zsombor Berecz 9
3 POL 17 Piotr Kula 12
4 SWE 33 Max Salminen 13
5 FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 16
6 EST 2 Deniss Karpak 21
7 CZE 5 Ondrej Teply 21
8 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 25
9 NED 89 Nicholas Heiner 29
10 ARG 48 Facundo Olezza 30

Published in Tokyo 2020
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It's bronze for Ireland at the U23 Finn Worlds following an auspicious debut performance from Baltimore Sailing Club's Fionn Lyden this week in the mens Olympic heavyweight dinghy in Hungary.

The 2017 U23 Finn World Championship for the Finn Silver Cup in Balatonfüred draws to a close after another windless day and with Finn, Oskari Muhonen, as the new World Champion. Facundo Olezza, from Argentina, wins the silver and Fionn Lyden, from Ireland, the bronze.

Sailors gathered at the club from 0700 in the morning hoping against hope that the previous night’s forecast of some wind was correct, but it wasn’t to be and AP was soon raised for another day sitting round in the blazing sunshine beside an unblemished lake.

The plug was pulled shortly after 13.00 with no wind expected all day and a cutoff time of 14.30. Even by 17.00 the lake remained motionless with the only movement that of ducks, swimmers and chains of Finns being towed to Balatonföldvár ready for the Opel Finn Gold Cup, which starts on Friday.

Olezza takes silver after a bronze in 2016 and left with a lot of ‘what ifs’ after losing the overall lead on Friday. Lyden, sailing in his first Finn regatta is clearly going to make a name for himself if he keeps up this kind of performance.

Speaking after the racing was abandoned, Muhonen said, “I expected we were going to sail today but the weather is what it is. It’s a lake so I expected it to be pretty tricky, so it’s as I expected.”

Earlier in the week he said his goal for the event was gold, but did he really expect to win? “Nah, hmm, maybe… I knew I was fast in the light but it’s always pretty good and surprising to win. My downwind in the light is pretty good but also on the upwind I felt I had really good height.”

He is coached by former Olympian Paul McKenzie, and Muhonen places some credit on him. “Paul is a pretty good coach and had a lot of influence on this.”

The Gold Cup is next up for the new World Champion.

“Of course it’s good to have a successful regatta before the Gold Cup, but it’s not the same race area but at least I know I am pretty fast.”

“If we have a northern wind it will be like the other side of the lake so not that shifty. Otherwise, maybe some light and fluky stuff. But we can have harder winds as well. Just before this regatta we had a few days of better breeze and that would be great.”

He feels it is a crucial step on his dream of competing at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.

“It feels good for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic dream, wining now and I think gives me a lot of confidence for that dream. I think I will work on the harder winds especially on upwind speed and tactics.”

On his chances, “I think it’s pretty good. If I can improve in harder in the hard wind I will stand a pretty good chance.”

To get there he has to overcome several obstacle, and the Finnish team is now as strong as it has been for a generation.

At the very first Silver Cup in 2004, Tapio Nirkko from Finland lifted the trophy in Rio de Janeiro. Fourteen years later, Finland has another Finn youth World Champion in Oskari Muhonen. Nirkko went on to represent Finland in three Olympic Games and is campaigning for a fourth Olympics in Tokyo. His biggest opposition to do that could now come from the young Muhonen.

On being World Champion. “It feels good to win and it’s great. My first world championship title. Pretty amazing.”

Despite the unhelpful weather the MVM SE sailing cub has done an exceptional job looking after everyone. Great food has been laid on every night and the staff has worked tirelessly to keep everyone fed and watered.

The lounge tent on the lawn has been active all day and while the sailors may not have improved their sailing skills as much as they would have liked, their table tennis, volleyball and fuseball skills have improved beyond measure.

The sailors now move across the lake to Balatonföldvár where the Opel Finn Gold Cup, the class world championship will begin next Friday with 124 entries.

Final Results
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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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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