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Northern Ireland’s Oisin McClelland maintains third place in the Finn class at the Hempel World Cup Series in Miami as cold temperatures, wind chill, rain, strong breeze, and more typical South Florida conditions challenged the 182 sailors from 45 nations yesterday (Thursday 23 January).

The challenge has been real on Biscayne Bay and this has created exciting racing and a level of unpredictability adding more intrigue to the annual Olympic class regatta.

Heading into Day 4’s racing yesterday, the Finn, Laser, Laser Radial and Men’s and Women’s 470 had completed six races, while the Men’s and Women’s RS:X finished nine.

However, the breeze failed to co-operate for most of Thursday, as rain showers sporadically dampened the sailing venue, and racing was limited after lengthy postponements.

American Caleb Paine won his fourth race of the regatta in Race 7 of the Finn class. He was third in Race 8 and leads by 17 points over Luke Muller (USA). Oisin McClelland of Donaghadee Sailing Club holds on to third, just two points behind Muller.

Meanwhile, the RS:X women and men managed just one race each, as did the Laser class. There was no racing in the Laser Radial or the 470 fleets.

Additional races are scheduled for the 470, Laser Radial and Laser today, Friday 24 January, with an earlier start time of 10.30am local (3.30pm Irish time).

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The 182 sailors embraced the challenge of the uncharacteristically cold and blustery conditions in Biscayne Bay on Day 3 of the 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami yesterday (Wednesday 22 January).

The athletes were faced with similar conditions on Tuesday, but Wednesday's overall shifty conditions and wind chill presented an even greater test of their physical and tactical skills.

Northern Ireland’Oisin McClelland is in third place in the Finn class and trails American Luke Muller by three points. McClelland won Race 6 and placed fourth in Race 5.

“I managed to come out with a fourth and a first. A few people tipped it in, but I managed to stay upright and took the win,” said the Donaghadee Sailing Club stalwart.

Miami is the final opportunity for North Americans to qualify for Tokyo 2020, but the final stop of the 2020 Hempel World Cup Series in Genoa is the last shot for Europeans — McClelland included.

“The major goal for me is the Genoa World Cup and the European continental spot. The only one left for Europe. I’m 100% focused on that and this event is a good warm-up. There’s a couple of us here who are going for the spot — Ukraine and Russia. It’s a good early test to see how we’re going.

“We had some goals in mind for what I wanted to get out of this regatta — technique wise — but if the week goes well then I'd be really be pleased with a podium.”

Racing resumes at 11am EST (4pm Irish time) today, Thursday 23 January.

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Josh Junior has become the first Kiwi to ever win the Finn Gold Cup after an epic medal race in Melbourne, Australia. Nick Heiner, from The Netherlands, took silver while 2018 world champion, Zsombor Berecz took bronze. Ireland was represented by Tokyo Olympic campaigner Oisin McClelland from Dongaghdee who has been seeking a Tokyo berth since 2016. He finished 32nd from 60 in Melbourne.

Earlier in the day, Ed Wright, from Britain, won the final race for the rest of the fleet, from Oskari Muhonen, from Finland and Jonathan Lobert, from France.

Even though he went into the medal race with a 16-point advantage over Heiner, Junior kept everyone guessing until the later stages of the race. He made hard work of the start, engaging with Heiner with a minute to go, but then allowing him to escape and control the start to lead up the first beat.

Starting in 20-22 knots, the wind gradually increased, as did the sea state, producing some epic racing conditions and supreme boat control. Heiner made the best of the first beat to round with a nice lead with Junior about sixth. Nothing much changed downwind, but a big shift to the left on the second upwind left Australia’s Jake Lilley in the lead followed by Berecz and Heiner. Junior was still back in seventh after losing out on the right.

While Lilley got away to win the race and move up to fifth overall, Berecz and Heiner battled downwind for silver and bronze. Berecz picked up a monster wave just short of the line and surged ahead, but Lilley was too far ahead to catch.

A mistake by Junior at this stage would have cost him the title, but he maintained control down on the final hairy downwind, to cross the line to whoops of joy. He had rewritten the history books, and despite a long line of celebrated Kiwi Finn sailors, he had become the first one ever to win the Finn Gold Cup.

Apart from Friday’s tricky races Junior was never out of the top five, leading from Day 2 all the way to the nail-biting finale. He entered the class in 2013 and has threatened brilliance ever since. But the years of hard work with Andy Maloney and coach Andrew Murdoch has finally paid off. It is an understatement to say he was pretty pleased with himself.

"I had a big lead but, to be fair, Heiner did a really good job at the start and on the first beat and he sort of got away on me. I was a bit worried I was in trouble of losing the whole regatta but I managed to hold it together and get the result I needed and I'm absolutely over the moon.”

"I have never won a world championships or even a medal so I'm stoked. There have been a lot of successful sailors in the Finn for New Zealand in the past and to be one of those is a great honour."

"It's been an outstanding week. I seem to have put pretty consistent results together and that's seen me near the front and took a bit of pressure off. But it's certainly a bit nerve racking. I have never been leading a world championship before, especially for so many days.”

His win makes the job of the Kiwi selectors much harder. Maloney had a better 2019 season and was selected for the test event, but a world champion is a world champion.

"Obviously Andy and I are really good mates and really good training partners and I was a bit gutted to see him not get on the podium today. But I think he still ended up with a good result. We will have another few regattas and, whoever ends up doing the best out of us will go to the Games and hopefully win a gold medal there.”

Another sailor hoping for a possible Tokyo selection now is Lilley, who has clearly had an amazing week with the medal race win and fifth overall.

“This week I tried to start slowly and consistently to not put any big points on the board and slowly built throughout the week and climb. I sort of clicked it up one gear each day as the regatta went and climaxed with the medal race win. I’m very happy with that and it’s a solid result in the lead up to Tokyo 2020.”

“It was important to go out and have a strong race today and set a mark so that everyone understands that we are coming for Tokyo 2020. I’ve had wins before or another good event, but I think this right now is the highest quality Finn fleet we have ever seen and it’s really tight at the top so anytime you finish top five or top ten is a great result.”

“To have the best fleet ever on Australian waters was really something special and Melbourne highlighted the fact that you have to be good in every aspect of this sport and the weather proved that here and I think the best guy came out on top. It was a fantastic event put on by Royal Brighton Yacht Club.”

Heiner was happy to consolidate his second place and secure the silver.

“It was an awesome medal race today. Breeze and nice waves and especially with the points from second to fifth, it was all to play for and with JJ well ahead, it was a bit of a hard one. He’s a match racer so I knew what was coming and I think I did a really good job of beating him off the line and had a good first beat and good first downwind and tacked on a nice lefty. The wind kept going left and made it a bit more exciting but luckily I still had Giles behind me and managed to chip away a little bit, and finished second overall, which I think is the best I could do today.”

“I’m pretty happy with the week. Looking back at the medal race at the Europeans in Cadiz where I lost the week on the medal race, we have come a long way since then and the training in Holland has paid off, and I felt pretty comfortable day today and I think that showed especially in upwind speed and sailing away on the downwind. So I think I definitely stepped up my game in the big breeze, so happy where we are going.”

“I think today everyone enjoyed the sailing. We loved it. I thought I would have the toughest job in the fleet, but I was pretty fast upwind and I didn’t make any mistakes, and it was not easy, but it was easier than I expected. There was a lot to gain or lose but I decided to save the bronze so I didn’t push too hard and risk a capsize and lose it all.”

“Before I came here my goal was to get a medal and I managed it so I am pretty happy. On the other had it was a magical week for Josh. He didn’t make mistakes, so there was noting we could do to beat him. I am happy that he managed to win the Gold Cup. Next time he meets Russell Coutts he has say’ I have something you don’t have.’ So I am really happy for Josh and thrilled to get third after a bad start to the week.”

While most of the places for Tokyo have been decided, one of the remaining places will generate a lot of interest. Many sailors are vying to win the remaining European place at the Genoa World Cup in April next year, where the the competition will be really tough. Several sailors have excelled this week including Croatia’s Nenad Bugarin, who has clearly benefitted from training with Berecz, and with coaching from three-time Olympian Pieter-Jan Postma. Bugarin finished in seventh.

Two places further back was Joan Cardona, from Spain, who also took the U23 prize ahead of Nils Theuninck, from Switzerland, and Luke Muller, from the USA.

“It’s been a great week for me. I had some ups and down at the beginning but I managed to finish top 10 and first U23 so I am really happy with my result and it just motivates me more to train as hard as I can to achieve the Olympic spot for Spain in Genoa next year.”

The 2019 Finn Gold Cup is in the books, and it will go down as one of the most competitive world championships for a while, with the first ever Kiwi winner. It also sets the scene for the coming eight months with everyone trying to find form or consolidate their performance ahead of the Olympics. After finishing in fourth, Olympic champion Giles Scott, from Britain said, “This week will serve as a bit of a wake-up call.” After some of the performances this week, that thought will be shared by many heading of those to Tokyo.

Results after medal race (medal race results in brackets)

1 NZL24 Josh JUNIOR 44 (7)
2 NED89 Nicholas HEINER 52 (3)
3 HUN40 Zsombor BERECZ 53 (2)
4 GBR41 Giles SCOTT 67 (8)
5 AUS1 Jake LILLEY 72 (1)
6 NZL61 Andy MALONEY 79 (9)
7 CRO10 Nenad BUGARIN 92 (5)
8 CAN18 Tom RAMSHAW 95 (10)
9 ESP26 Joan CARDONA ÉNDEZ 98 (6)
10 TUR21 Alican KAYNAR 100 (4)

Full results here

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Christmas only comes once a year, but for one Finn sailor Christmas will come early this year, with one of the most prestigious and famous trophies in sailing there for the taking over the next six days at the 2019 Finn Gold Cup, sailed from the Royal Brighton Yacht Club, in Melbourne, Australia.

Ireland is represented by Tokyo Olympic campaigner Oisin McClelland from Dongaghdee who has been seeking a Tokyo berth since 2016. 

After weeks of preparation and training on Port Philip, the 62-strong fleet from 23 nations is ready for action. The training conditions have been awesome so far but are predicted to get even better as the event begins with a change to warmer and sunnier weather and reliable sea breezes. But it never pays to predict to far ahead in Melbourne.

The practice race on Sunday afternoon was sailed in a shifty 5 to 12 knots and as usual no one took it particularly seriously, but it marked the end of training and the start of the competition. While race leaders Nils Theuninck, from Switzerland and Markus Whitley, from Australia pulled out at the gate, Jesse Kylänpää, from Finland took the win from Mark Jackson, of Australia.

One of the favourites next week is Nicholas Heiner, from the Netherlands. He won the last major regatta, the Sailing World Cup in Enoshima, in August. A Dutch sailor has never won the Finn Gold Cup, but after a very close third in 2017 and a sixth in 2018, Heiner has got closer than most. Despite winning in Enoshima in 2017 and 2018, a major win still eludes him, though he has been threatening to take one for the last two years.

He has been enjoying the Port Philip conditions in the run up to the Finn Gold Cup. “We’ve done about 15 days training in total this year, plus time at the end of last year, so we’ve been here plenty over the years. It’s always been good. It’s a real treat to come here, with pretty efficient training and always a nice breeze.”

“The last two weeks have been glamour, not much light wind but everything between 6 and almost 30 knots, so it’s been good, and the last few days with an amazing thermally enhanced gradient breeze and nice waves, so definitely a good place for the Finn.”

“It’s a bit cooler than usual though. We had one day with 42 degrees and 40 knots out of the north, and it did a big switch to the south-west and within half an hour was 18 degrees and 52 knots, so definitely a place of extremes. This week has been cold and next week will be will be nice and warm for us.”

He said the training had gone well with many sailors taking part. “It’s actually quite nice to see a lot of different guys at the front and I think Nils made a good step up. He has been training with us and we taught him one or two things. But I would say everyone has been up there. No one has been dominating in training.”

One of the teams using the event for Olympic selection is the USA. The team here includes the 2016 bronze medallist Caleb Paine and young hopeful Luke Muller.

Muller said, “I came pretty early last month and just wanted to get comfortable here and I am glad I did. The first two weeks I was pretty useless because of the time change. But it’s been really great to line up against everyone who has shown up, and just trying to really get comfortable in the conditions. It was a big priority for me to be prepared here and feel good and just feel at home.”

As is usual in the Finn class, the sailors have been training together on the water, but over the last few weeks the group has been growing, with practice starts organised most days. “It’s been really collaborative with everyone organising together the night before. We’ve had between 15 and 30 guys on the start line at once in training so it’s really been good to simulate what kind of starts we’re going to have and you get to line up alongside everyone you want to. It’s been great.”

“Rafa [Trujillo, the Australian coach] has been starting practice races and everyone has joined in. I think everyone has quite liked it.”

“When I first came it was 12-13 degrees and raining and really windy. But Melbourne has been treating us well since and hopefully it will continue. It looks like the forecast will be great.”

A Kiwi sailor has also never won the Finn Gold Cup in the 64-year history of the event. Two sailors who could well change that next week are Andy Maloney and Josh Junior, who have both been on top form all year. Earlier in 2019, Maloney won the Trofeo Princesa Sofia in Palma and the World Cup Final in Marseille and is relishing the chance to challenge for the Finn world title.

Maloney has not competed in the Finn since the test event in August but says they are prepared.

“We had a good break after Japan and we’ve been back in the boat a month or so now, so I guess it’s the start of another season for us and it’s the world championship. The Finn Gold Cup is a pretty special trophy and I think for me that’s a great incentive, so to try and win that trophy is a pretty cool opportunity.”

The pair have just finished a second week of training, with a week in between back in Auckland for “work”.

“We’ve done quite a bit of practice racing here now and it’s been pretty nice conditions so far. Usually some pretty good chop and waves and really close acing. And pretty decent shifts no matter what the breeze is, so definitely a fun race course trying to sniff out the shifts, and trying to do it better than everyone else.”

“All the usual names have had their moments, but generally it’s been the same guys out front as always the last year or two. Everyone has been pushing hard and everyone has had their moments.”

Racing is scheduled to being at 13.00 on Monday 16 December

Published in Tokyo 2020
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The International Finn Association delegation to the 2019 World Sailing Annual Conference in Bermuda has returned empty-handed. The eight submissions to reinstate the Finn in the slate for the 2024 Olympic Games were rejected by both the committees and the Council.

The IFA is disappointed that it did not get the support of the World Sailing Council to debate and vote on its submissions. The submissions were very complex but that was necessary because of the complex World Sailing processes.

This complexity allowed people that didn’t support the Finn within World Sailing to influence the process and spread disinformation. All of this may have been resolved through the new governance reforms so it is disappointing that this was also rejected.

However, despite the rejections, the Finn class did receive a lot of advice and support from board members, councillors and committee members throughout the week, though unfortunately that support did not translate into votes around the table. What the Finn delegation did take from away the conference was that there is hope for a return, even if not at the current juncture. The overwhelming response from other delegates was that the Finn was an essential element of the Olympic Games and many hoped that it would return.

British sailor Hector Simpson made a heartfelt plea to the Equipment and Events Committees, speaking on behalf of the Finn Class submissions. As one of the many young Finn hopefuls that have lost their hope of sailing at the Olympics, he made a passionate and emotional case that struck a chord with many in the room. The Finn Class would like to thank him, as well as, Hungarian Finn sailor Doma Nemeth, for their time and energy over the past week.

The Finn Class looks forward to continue working with World Sailing as an Olympic Class over the coming months to make sure the 2020 Olympic Games is a huge success that showcases sailing and the Finn’s amazing athletes to the full.

World Sailing has a lot of questions to answer after this week’s conference and the class will carefully watch what happens next to find any opportunity it can to create opportunities for Finn sailors to compete at the 2024 Olympics.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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The Finn class has made eight submissions to the upcoming World Sailing annual conference in Bermuda in its efforts to ‘rebalance the slate’ of Olympic sailing.

This past summer the one-person dinghy class — which at least year’s conference was removed from the Paris 2024 Games onwards in favour of a mixed two-person keelboat event — suggested a number of ways in which sailing’s world governing body could close the gaps of opportunity for men over 85kg and lightweight women.

These include cutting the number of board events from three (which it says “is not representative of sailing as a sport globally”) to two, or replacing the mixed kite with the Finn. The class does not propose any conflict with the newly introduced mixed keelboat.

The proposals form the basis of the Finn class’ eight submissions, which are available on the World Sailing website and will be reviewed and discussed at the conference which begins this Saturday 26 October.

Published in Olympic

The Finn class has announced proposals to ‘rebalance the slate’ of Olympic sailing as it identifies a lack of opportunity for heavyweight men and lightweight women.

The mixed one-person dinghy class, which late last year was removed from the Games from 2024 onwards in favour of a two-person keelboat, says the decision now leaves men over 85kg with no chance of sailing at the Olympics.

But it also identified a gap for lightweight women whose opportunities have also been limited, it says.

The International Finn Association now says it is “working on a series of submissions for November to rebalance the Olympic events, providing options for both heavyweight men and lightweight women”.

It is being suggested that kiteboarding becomes a men’s event match by a windsurfing event for women, while the mixed two-person dinghy becomes a women’s event alongside a reintroduced one-person dinghy for heavyweight men.

“It will be a balanced slate that allows for the widest possible spread of participation across genders, weights and nations within the constraints laid down by the IOC,” the class says.

These proposals will form the substance of its submissions to World Sailing for the governing body’s November conference in Bermuda.

And the class is appealing for responses from interested parties to get involved at [email protected] “to help us build a better balanced and more representative slate of Olympic events for 2024”.

Published in World Sailing

Fionn Lyden and Oisin McClelland — who are currently competing at the Finn Europeans in Athens — are among dozens of concerned Finn sailors who have put their names to an open letter to sailing chiefs over the removal of their class from the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

The letter’s release coincides with the start of World Sailing’s Mid-Year Meeting in London today (Friday 17 May), and follows a similar appeal by the International Finn Association ahead of the AGM for sailing’s world governing body last November.

That was prompted by an 11th-hour move by World Sailing decision makers to replace the Mixed One Person Dinghy event (in which men sail the Finn class) with a two-person keelboat class to be determined, overturning a previous decision in May 2018.

In its statement at the time, the Finn class body said the decision “is further driving our sport into expensive elitist Olympic events which will result in the decrease of universality and participation in Olympic sailing”.

The latest letter, from a group providing the email address [email protected], is attached below, and the text can be read here:

To whom it may concern,

We are writing to express our deep concern regarding the removal of the Finn class from the 2024 Olympic Games by World Sailing and to request the reinstatement of a class suited to male athletes over 85 kilograms.

While we understand that the main reason behind this decision was to give preference to mixed event categories, removing the Finn class eliminates a massive Olympic sailing group which includes every single male athlete over 85 kilograms. Historically, athletes of this category have significantly contributed to the sport and this category’s popularity continues today. At the recent Aarhus Sailing World Championships in Denmark, 42 nations gathered and participated with athletes in the Finn class, making the Finn the third largest class at the competition.

Not only is the Finn class’s popularity undeniable and the removal of this class a detriment to the Olympic Games, but it also discriminates against many sailors. Despite the initial working party and the World Sailing Events Committee Chairman’s expressed respect for World Sailing’s Regulation 23 and the ‘all physique’s’ policy 70/17, the category of men over 85 kilograms has been discriminated against and effectively barred from competition due to the equipment specifications. For further evidence of this detrimental phenomenon, please see page 17 of the attached document, which illustrates that all male sailors fall into the 70-85 kilogram bracket.

The removal of the Finn class from the Olympic Games breaches World Sailing rules and policies and disregards the principles of the Olympic Charter with respect to non-discrimination of physiques, and limits access to many sailors. Therefore, we urge you to reinstate a class, like the Finn, suited to male athletes over 85 kilograms in order to guarantee the fair access to all sailors and in order to avoid the implementation of discriminatory decision from World Sailing.

In the hope that a correction will be provided without the need for further action, we remain at your disposal for a constructive dialogue on this matter at the address shown in the header of this letter.

Published in World Sailing

Oisin McClelland and Fionn Lyden are lying 38th and 39th respectively at the 84-boat Finn Europeans in Athens this week but an injury for Lyden means he is unlikely to finish the regatta.

The Baltimore sailor, who was a 2017 bronze medalist at U23 level in the heavyweight men's dinghy class pulled grip muscles in his right arm leaving the harbour on the first day.

It's a disappointing outcome but none more so than the forecast for the rest of the event is for light winds, conditions that really suit him.

Sydney Olympian Maria Coleman is coaching the Irish pair.

Fionn LydenFionn Lyden Photo: Robert Deaves

Oisin McClellandOisin McClelland Photo: Robert Deaves

Giles Scott extends while fight for Tokyo places heats up

The Europeans got back on track on Thursday with three more races completed. After losing the overall lead following the opening race, Brit, Giles Scott ended the day with a 15-point lead over Hungarian world champion Zsombor Berecz. Andy Maloney, from New Zealand drops one place to third, despite winning the opening race. The other race wins went to Nils Theuninck, from Switzerland and Josip Olujic, from Croatia.

The battle to win the four places in Tokyo took a new turn today with only Norway still among the top four nations from yesterday that haven’t already qualified. A great day from Jorge Zarif moves him up to 10th and second nation, just one point behind Anders Pedersen from Norway, while a fantastic performance from Nils Theuninck puts Switzerland in third, with USA fourth.

With three races scheduled it was with a feeling of déjà vue that the fleet was held on shore again with too little wind on the race course. As the wind increased and the fleet was released they managed three races in a range of conditions. The first race started in 7-9 knots. Oscar was raised at the top mark and the wind continued to increase to 12-14 knots over the afternoon before dropping in the middle of the final race to around 5 knots.

Day 4 Highlights


James Skulczuk, from Britain, was fastest to the top mark in Race 6, leading round from Arkadiy Kistanov from Russia and Theuninck. Kistanov took the lead downwind and held it until the second top mark, when Maloney came through to lead into the finish. Kisanov took second and Zarif recovered to take third. Regatta leader, Scott, recovered from the second half of the fleet at the top mark, to cross in 14th, and briefly lost the overall lead to Maloney.

Race 7 started in great conditions, with 12-14 knots, nice waves and brilliant blue skies. After placing fourth in the first race, Theuninck rounded the top mark in the lead and flew downwind to open up a huge gap on the fleet. He never looked threatened, while the pack behind him including Luwen Shen, from China, Ed Wright from Britain, Zarif and Scott were chasing hard. Zarif eventually crossed second with Scott third.

The wind was clearly dropping as the fleet started Race 8, and the course was reduced in size at each mark. Wright was the early leader from Joan Cardona, of Spain, and Max Salminen, from Sweden. The second beat was crucial with lots of pressure changes in the dying breeze causing many place changes. Berecz emerged ahead to lead downwind, but Olujic got the final advantage to lead the fleet across the line from Berecz and Scott.

Zarif said, “I had two pretty good races with a second and a third. The last one was pretty bad when the wind completely died. It’s not an excuse, as I made my discard, but I had a good day, because in a championship like this the scores are super high and if you can make top 12 average you are in a good position to make the medal race.”

“I think I sailed really bad the first two days, but I was still just six points behind fourth place. Everyone has had at least one terrible race, so there is still a lot to play for tomorrow and let’s see if I can make it.”

It has been an up and down week for Cardona, and he is now struggling to be the one to qualify Spain for Tokyo 2020.

“It was not a very good day for me. Yesterday I got a black flag so today it was like I couldn’t discard any bad race. I had a 40th so not the best result and I dropped a bit in the overall, but everything is still open and hoping for better results tomorrow.”

“The conditions were good except the last race when the wind dropped a lot. But conditions were nice and I enjoyed it a lot. It’s my first Olympic qualifier so I am just learning lots of things and trying to improve a bit every day.”

The star performance of the day was undoubtedly Theuninck. The defending U23 European Champion is now leading the U23 championship from Cardona and Finland’s Oskari Muhonen.

“It was really tiring, because the first two races were hard on the upwinds and hard on the downwinds, and long races, so I am really tired right now but also really happy with the day as well.”

“The first two went really well with a fourth and a first and then the last about 13th so it was quite a consistent day.”

“This regatta is the most important of the year. I managed to get back in the game after a not so good first two days. I guess tomorrow, I will try and do the same and see where I end up. It’s been a pretty good year with fifth in Miami and 12th in Palma. So some good results. This regatta didn’t go so well until today, so I am happy that my results are improving.”

“In the last race the wind was dying and I came around the top mark in the top 20 and it was free pumping, even though conditions were really light, so I just pumped as hard as I could to catch up the front pack. And I managed to gain some places. I missed a few opportunities to get some more but it was a bit intense, a bit stressful and nerve-wracking, but it was OK.”

There will be plenty more stress to come with a maximum of three races left to sail. The points are generally high and also quite close, so there is still everything to play for. The top three overall are starting to show signs of pulling away, with a 30-point gap on the fleet, but the medal race split and the Tokyo 2020 qualification is still incredibly tight.

There are two more races in the opening series scheduled on Friday, before the medal race and the final race for the rest on Saturday.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Ireland's Oisin McClelland is 24th and Fionn Lyden is 42nd at the 2019 Finn Open Europeans in Athens following three races on Tuesday.

Giles Scott, from Britain, leads after the first day. Scott won two races and placed third in the other to hold a four-point lead over Andy Maloney, from New Zealand, who won the second race of the day. World champion, Zsombor Berecz, from Hungary, is third overall. Joan Cardona, from Spain, in 11th overall, holds a sizable lead in the U23 European Championship.

Overlooked by the Acropolis of Athens in the distance, the 84 sailors from 33 nations were looking for some Greek wisdom, to prepare themselves for three tough races in challenging conditions, and conquer the Greek winds.

After Monday’s racing was lost with no wind, the fleet was keen to get racing on Tuesday, but there was a further postponement on shore, waiting for wind to build. Finally, at 13.30, the fleet was sent out and enjoyed three great races in a solid breeze, building from 10-12 knots to 15-16 later in the afternoon.

Race 1 got away first time with Anders Pedersen, from Norway, leading round the top mark from Josip Olujic, from Croatia and Scott. Scott took the lead downwind but lost his advantage on the second upwind with Fabian Pic, from France and Alican Kaynar, from Turkey, closing right up on the Olympic champion. However, Scott extended again on the final downwind for a comfortable win from Nenad Bugarin, from Croatia and Kaynar.

The wind looked like it would drop for a while but then came back in at 14-15 knots under clearing skies. The second race took three attempts to get away, but then started cleanly under the black flag. After placing fourth in the opening race, Maloney led all the way in Race 2, rounding the top mark ahead of Brits, Henry Wetherell, and Scott. Maloney sped away from the fleet for the race win, while Berecz moved through to take second from Scott.

The breeze dropped slightly for the third and final race of the day. Maloney was again in the mix, rounding just behind Cardona and just in front of Tapio Nirkko, from Finland. Scott was not far back and moved ahead at the gate, to go on to take his second win of the day. Cardona held on for second, while Maloney crossed on third.

The championship is important to many sailors because it is a nation qualifier for the Tokyo Olympics, with four spots available. One of those if Olujic, who just missed out in Aarhus.

“Happy with my starts, so I am happy with the day and fighting for these four spots left, so I think comparing to the other guys, so far I did well. It’s really important for me, and really important for Croatia. Personally I missed qualifying in Aarhus by six points and one place, I was 11th, so it was kind of painful, but hopefully I learned something from it and I am going to keep fighting and try to do it here.”

Tuesday, “was a really nice day. Nice breeze, so was intense. I don’t know about the other guys but after the World Sailing events, we kind of forgot how it is to race Finns. Having a race over 60 minutes is hard, but it’s nice. You have to work totally different to 50 minutes races to take care of your energy and use it wisely, not spend everything fast, so it’s a totally different approach.”

In second overall, Maloney was on form following his win at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia in April.

“It turned out to be a really nice this afternoon with anywhere from 7-15 knots of breeze with some nice waves. For myself, I had a really good day with three top fives, which is awesome in a big fleet. It was really tricky with a 10-15 degree range out there and quite a lot of pressure came with these shifts, so it was pretty easy to get stuck on the wrong side of things if you weren’t nailing it.”

“Josh [Junior] and I are both here to keep progressing and keep seeing how the things we have been working on are going and figure out what to work on next, ahead of going to Tokyo next month. We are in Tokyo for the next three months for little stints at a time, so that’s the big part of the year, but here we will just be learning as much as we can.”

“With 80 to 90 boats on one start line, it’s massive, so trying to figure out where to start on the line and how you are going to get out of that line on the right tack as soon as possible is pretty tricky. It’s probably the hardest thing of the day. You can get pined pretty easily going the wrong way so I think I did that pretty nicely today.”

Another sailor still looking for a place in Tokyo is Pedersen. “I didn’t qualify in Aarhus so this is really important to hopefully get a nation spot here so I have to fight for that through the week. It’s tough racing, and it’s really tiring. All the guys are flat out for 75 minutes, so that hard and tough for the body for sure.”

“It was good to finally get racing. Three heavy races. I think the boat speed is good and the decision making is good. I felt unlucky to get a yellow flag in the first race when I was leading, so that sucked. I caught some bad air and fell back to 20th so that was not good race, but the last two races were good.”

“The first race was a bit light and we didn’t have free pumping, they shut that off at the top mark, and the wind was very up and down, we got some clouds coming in bringing some more pressure and taking it away so it was a bit of everything.”

Maloney concluded, “I think all the forecasts are a bit varied so it might be a bit lighter for the rest of the week. Today might have been the nicest day of the week, but we’ll see.”

After three races on Tuesday, the event is now just one race behind. Three more races are scheduled for Wednesday, which would bring it back on schedule.

Results after three races
1 GBR 41 Giles Scott 5
2  NZL 61 Andy Maloney 9
3  HUN 40 Zsombor Berecz 15
4  TUR 21 Alican Kaynar 19
5  CRO 1 Josip Olujic 31
6  NOR 1 Anders Pedersen 33
7  FRA 112 Jonathan Lobert 33
8  NZL 24 Josh Junior 41
9  NED 89 Nicholas Heiner 41
10  NED 842 Pieter-Jan Postma 44
 
Full results here

Published in Tokyo 2020
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