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Displaying items by tag: Oisin McClelland

The 65th Finn Gold Cup opens in Porto, Portugal, this week with around 60 sailors from 33 nations taking part. It is the first time that the whole fleet will race together since the 2019 Finn Gold Cup in Melbourne, Australia.

The event also offers the final opportunities for nations to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, with one European place and one African place on offer and, as Afloat reported earlier, Donghadee's Oisin McClelland is looking for a place for Ireland.

The fleet includes four previous world champions, including the defender Josh Junior, from New Zealand, who hasn't raced a major Finn event since victory in 2019. However, he has of course, along with Andy Maloney who is also in Porto, won the America's Cup in the meantime.

The 65th Finn Gold Cup comes at a strange time in the history of this outstanding class, both because of Covid restrictions and the uncertainty over its inclusion at Paris 2024. In 1956 the Finn Gold Cup was introduced to bring the best sailors in the world together for a week of racing. It is still doing that and there is little doubt next week's battle on the ocean off Porto should be epic.

Registration and measurement run from Wednesday 5 to Friday 7 May, followed by a 10 race series from 8-12 May.

Event website here

Published in Tokyo 2020

Northern Ireland’s Oisin McClelland will join than 60 Finn sailors from 30 nations converging on Porto in Portugal for the 2021 Finn Gold Cup next week.

Pre-race prep begins on Wednesday 5 May before the 10 races scheduled from 8-12 May in what will be the final chance to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games — with one spot available for both Europe and Africa.

It’s also potentially the final Gold Cup for the Finn as an Olympic class, so the Donaghadee Sailing Club prospect — who ended this months Finn Euros in 33rd place — is determined to finish on a high, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Finn Gold Cup organisers have posted a teaser trailer on YouTUbe to give a taster of what to expect.

Published in Olympic

With a personal best achieved in the Finn European Championships in 2020, the hope was that Donaghadee Sailing Club sailor Oisin McClelland would make a further improvement in Vilamoura, Portugal this week at the 2021 championships, an important milestone on his road to the Finn Gold Cup, (the final Tokyo Olympic Qualifier), next month in which he seeks to gain the last spot in Tokyo for Ireland.

But apart from a solid sixth place taken in race six, McClelland was, unfortunately, unable to improve on his 23rd spot at the Polish 2020 Euros and finished 33rd overall in a fleet of 49 yesterday.

Next month's Gold Cup is also in Portugal and as previously reported on Afloat, McClelland is determined to finish this quadrennial on a high: "My primary goal is to qualify for Tokyo, it's the goal I have built this campaign around and I set out to achieve in 2016. However, that aside, this may be the last Finn Gold Cup held as an Olympic class I would really like to achieve a great result overall. I've made good progress despite the tough year, systematically targeting weaknesses and building them into strengths. I look forward to testing this in May." He adds: "Give me the right conditions I can achieve some top-level race results, my focus going into the regatta is to combine the progress in each area of my training from the past three years and achieve the best result I can."

Zsombor Berecz successfully retained the Championship after a consistent, confident and conclusive display on the waters of Vilamoura over the past week.

The Hungarian never put a foot wrong and achieved a level of consistency unmatched by the fleet and then put the pedal to the metal when it mattered to win with a race to spare.

Giles Scott’s return to Finn sailing after six months off with the INEOS Team UK America’s Cup team was also a triumph. A shaky start for the Brit was followed by a few classic Scott moments but he did just enough to fend off the massive challenge from the ever-confident young sailors knocking on his transom.

With the pressure on and the finish line in sight, Switzerland’s Nil Theuninck rose to the challenge to dominate the final race and secure the bronze, the first Finn European medal for Switzerland for over 30 years.

Spain’s Joan Cardona was largely unchallenged for the U23 European title, his third in a row, but fourth overall reinforces his ability and determination ahead of the final Olympic qualification event next month.

Berecz won his first Finn European title last year in Gdynia, Poland.

He said, “I think the trophy likes me. It was in very bad condition last year and I fixed it and now it’s in great shape again, so we like each other. It was a very tough week but consistency again paid off and I am very happy to win it again as it’s a great trophy.”

“I’m also very happy to be part of the Finn family and I think that’s the great thing in Finn sailing, not so much the boat itself, but the people who are sailing the boat.”

Published in Tokyo 2020

Donaghadee's Olympic campaigner Oisin McClelland has had a difficult start to the opening four races of the 2021 Open and U23 Finn European Championship in Vilamoura, Portugal and is currently placed in the bottom quarter of his 49-boat fleet.

The Ulster sailor will be keen to improve his performance as the event reaches its halfway point today. The next six races of the series that conclude on Friday are critical given this is McClelland's last big race opportunity before the final Olympic test next month at the Finn Gold Cup where he is aiming to take an Olympic berth for Ireland in Tokyo this Summer.

The solo sailor has previously found great form at European Championships, for example in 2018, when McClelland finished just outside the top third on a 91-boat fleet in Cadiz as Afloat reported here.

A start at the 2021 Open and U23 Finn European Championship in Vilamoura, PortugalA start at the 2021 Open and U23 Finn European Championship in Vilamoura, Portugal

Cardona in serious form

Joan Cardona, the defending U23 European Champion from Spain, showed some serious form on the second day of the event. Cardona is one of the world’s most exciting emerging sailing talents, and today won both races in a fleet packed with some of the best Olympic sailors in the world.

He leads the 49 boat fleet from 29 nine nations after four races. Hungary’s Zsombor Berecz drops to second while Croatia’s Milan Vujasinovic climbs to third.

Cardona has already made his mark elsewhere in the sport. He won the 2020 eSailing World Championship and is a member of the Spanish SailGP team, but his Olympic career could be over before it even starts, having no chance to sail another boat due to his physique.

“I feel like the Finn class has so much more to offer me, but if it is not Olympic any more my Olympic dream will end at the age of 22.”

He dominated the racing on Tuesday, always in the mix and making the breaks count.

The left side of the course was popular in Race 3. After a clear start in around 9 knots, most of the fleet headed left but the leaders at the top were those who came back on a long port tack about half way up. France’s Jonathan Lobert was first round from Cardona and Vujasinovic.

In an increased wind, with free pumping, a good swell and nice waves the good sailors were able to get going downwind and stretch out a lead. Lobert and Cardona extended while Nils Theuninck, from Switzerland, pulled up to fourth at the gate. There were also big gains from Jorge Zarif, from Brazil, Max Salminen, Sweden, and Oskari Muhohen, from Finland. Regatta leader Berecz also moved through the fleet.

On the final upwind, the leaders played the left and most of the fleet followed, so not much changed. The wind dropped to 8-9 knots on the final downwind, with a huge spread across the course trying to find more breeze. The leaders separated by over 600 metres at times with Cardona passing Lobert on the right and Theuninck leading the left. It was a close finish but Cardona crossed just ahead, while Lobert finished third.

Race 4 got away first time in slightly less wind at about 8 knots and again the left was favoured. Those who got the better starts led to the left and crossed back ahead. At the top it was Vujasinovic, Taavi Valter Taveter from Estonia, Lobert, Brazil’s Jorge Zarif and Cardona.

There were still some waves left over from the morning, but no free pumping and those who gybed away down the middle made some gains downwind. The leading group of six arrived at the gate almost together with Vujasinovic still leading.

While the group went left again on the final upwind, a later right shift brought a few a boats through the fleet, with Antoine Devineau, from France, in particular gaining around 15 places. However the front group emerged unscathed, with Cardona now leading, and set off for the finish in just 6-7 knots of wind.

On the final run Cardona pulled out a nice lead from Vujasinovic, who crossed second while Nicholas Heiner, from The Netherlands, recovered to third.

Day 2

After a high scoring first day, Lobert picked up a third and a fourth, the second best score of the day behind Cardona.

Lobert said, “Pretty happy with my day. Yesterday was a terrible day for me. I was a bit rusty from racing and I sailed too conservatively. Today I decided to trust myself more and sail the shift as I saw them. I was leading almost all the first race but on the last downwind I lost Joan and Nils coming back with the pressure. On the second race I kept the same mood and I crossed the finish in fourth. It a very good day but most of all I am getting my confidence back.”

Winning two races at a major Finn championship doesn’t happen very often, but today for Cardona it all came together.

“Today was a really good day for me. I really like those conditions of about 8-12 knots and choppy waves. I had a really good speed upwind and downwind and took really good decisions in key moments. I am really enjoying being on the water with such a great fleet and such tight racing.”

Following the news this week that World Sailing consider there is a distinct possibility the offshore keelboat option will be rejected by the IOC for 2024, the prospect exists again that the Finn could be included for Paris 2024 after all.

Cardona explained how this decision would affect him.

“For me it would be a life changer if the Finn class makes it to the next Olympics. I am still U23 and did not manage to qualify to the Olympics yet.”

He is still one of the youngest sailors here but is showing great form in one of the toughest fleets in the world.

“This fleet is so talented that taking all of us out from the Olympics, it's a really big loss for the sport of sailing. I really hope the Finn class can stay Olympic for much more time.”

Racing in Vilamoura is scheduled to continue at 12.00 on Wednesday.

Results after 4 races

1 ESP 26 Joan CARDONA 21
2 HUN 40 Zsombor BERECZ 27
3 CRO 369 Milan VUJASINOVIC 28
4 TUR 21 Alican KAYNAR 44
5 CAN 18 Thomas RAMSHAW 51
6 SWE 33 Max SALMINEN 52
7 GBR 71 Henry WETHERELL 56
8 NED 89 Nicholas HEINER 58
9 GBR 41 Giles SCOTT 58
10 SUI 1 Nils THEUNINCK 59

Full results here

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Tokyo Olympic solo sailor campaigner Oisin McClelland of Donaghadee in Northern Ireland is among the entries for the 2021 Open and U23 Finn European Championship that gets underway in Vilamoura, Portugal, this morning with around 49 sailors from 29 nations competing.

Over the coming week, 10 races are scheduled up to Friday 16 April.

It's the penultimate regatta in McClelland's long road to qualifying Ireland in the Finn, a heavy weight men's class that McClelland has been campaigning since 2015. 

McClelland of Donaghadee has secured several results with the top 32 Worlds, 23 in the 2020 Europeans and a credible 8th in Kieler Week.

Portugal will host the Finn Gold Cup early this May and McClelland, which will be a big event for McClelland. It will not only determine the 2021 Finn world champion but also the final two places at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

There are two places left to decide, one European place and one African place to complete the fleet taking part in the Games.

This week though, it's all about preparation for that do or die May event with sailors from around the globe now rigged up and ready to race in Portugal.

The furthest travelled for this event and taking part in his first major Finn event since 2019, is Jake Lilley, from Australia.

“It’s really nice to re-connect after an extended period away. It was great action when we were all together for the Gold Cup in Melbourne, so I’m really looking forward to more racing at the Euros and Gold Cup in Portugal this year.”

While he has not been racing in world quality fleets as usual, he has been able to train in large fleets in Australia

“Training in Australia has always presented its blessing in the Finn. We have beautiful conditions year round and the fleet is really thriving Down Under. My home club (RQYS) has 40 boats alone. It was amazing to be racing weekends with 30+ guys when the rest of the world was in lockdown. So it’s a bit of a disconnected feeling to what everyone else has had to go through.”

“I’m also super lucky with coach Rafa [Trujillo] and Finn legend, Anthony Nossiter, throwing their righting moment around for the long upwind slogs in domestic training. I think having the old school smarts and the help from two heroes is a beautiful thing and puts us in really good stead with speed and preparation. So it’s just up to me to put it all together on the racetrack now.”

Two of the British sailors have come almost direct from the America’s Cup in New Zealand. While Giles Scott, is preparing to defend his Olympic title in Tokyo in August, INEOS Team UK grinder, Ben Cornish, is also back in a Finn for a while, though he says it’s not a comeback.

“Giles asked if I could come and do some training with him, in his compact build-up the Olympics this summer. Of course I couldn’t say no.”

“It’s certainly not a comeback for me, but it’s a rare opportunity to compete in the Finn for pure enjoyment. Having been on the grinding wheel with the America’s Cup at INEOS Team UK for the past three years it’s refreshing to be thinking about ‘conventional’ racing and decision making, and of course with so many people I enjoyed racing over the past years.”

Cornish, who dropped out of his Olympic campaign and joined INEOS Team UK after the decision to drop the Finn from 2024 is expecting a very high standard of competition. “It’s clear to see that people have spent a lot of time training this winter and beyond through lockdowns. As we know people are looking to find form in Olympic year so I expect to see some strong results within the fleet.”

“I hope the venue delivers some good racing conditions and everyone can have an enjoyable week out on the race course.”

Published in Tokyo 2020

Three Northern Ireland sailors are all battling for a place at the Tokyo Olympic Regatta with qualification events taking place this week and in the next few weeks.

Ryan Seaton, Oisin McClelland and Liam Glynn have been training for over four years and are taking to the water in a bid to qualify the nation and secure their place at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

In sailing, nations can qualify over ten Olympic disciplines but just one boat is eventually selected to represent each nation in each discipline.

The Northern Ireland athletes represent three different classes - the Finn, 49er and ILCA (formerly known as the Laser).

Double Olympic veteran and World Cup silver medallist, Ryan Seaton, from Carrickfergus, is paired with crew Seafra Guilfoyle from Cork, following his 10th place finish with Matt McGovern at Rio in 2016.

The pair had a solid start to this week's Regatta, which forms the final qualification event for the class. They had an 11-8-8 for the day in a 21 boat flight. Three days of qualification races will decide the split for Gold and Silver fleets on Wednesday that will go on to decide the medal race final on Friday (26 March) but currently, trail Dublin duo Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove as Afloat reports here.

Ryan and Seafra finished 10th at the Olympic Test event in Enoshima and 30th at the 2020 World Championships.

Ahead of the race, Seaton commented: "It's all in, to qualify the nation. If we qualify, we will go to the Olympics. Seafra and I have been doing a serious amount of work over the past year, we are motivated and ready to put down a good performance.

"The outcome goal is to qualify for Tokyo 2021 and our process goals are to keep focused on our individual roles, to enjoy the racing and to believe in our ability as a team to perform.

"All the work is done now, and we are ready to enjoy the challenge. This is what it's all about, the big events, and performing at these events when it really counts".

Oisin McClelland of Donaghadee

Campaigning in the men's heavyweight Finn class since 2015, Oisin McClelland of Donaghadee has secured several results with the top 32 Worlds, 23 in the 2020 Europeans and a credible 8th in Kieler Week.

Portugal will host the Finn Gold Cup early this May and McClelland, which will be a big event for McClelland. It will not only determine the 2021 Finn world champion but also the final two places at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

There are two places left to decide, one European place and one African place to complete the fleet taking part in the Games.

Oisin McClelland of DonaghadeeOisin McClelland of Donaghadee Photo: Robert Deaves

It is also the final World Championship for the class as an Olympic boat after the Finn was removed from the games for Paris 2024 and the future. The 2021 Finn Gold Cup will be decided over a 10 race series after the class decided to drop the medal race last year.

McClelland comments: "My primary goal is to qualify for Tokyo, it's the goal I have built this campaign around and I set out to achieve in 2016. However, that aside, this may be the last Finn Gold Cup held as an Olympic class I would really like to achieve a great result overall. I've made good progress despite the tough year, systematically targeting weaknesses and building them into strengths. I look forward to testing this in May."

He adds: "Give me the right conditions I can achieve some top-level race results, my focus going into the regatta is to combine the progress in each area of my training from the past three years and achieve the best result I can."

Liam Glynn, ILCA

For Liam Glynn of Ballyholme Yacht Club, the Olympic Qualifying event for the Lasers has been confirmed as the 2021 ILCA Vilamoura International Championship, taking place from 17-24 April.

This is the last chance for Liam to qualify the nation with two places up for grabs against Italy, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands. Liam will be one of three other sailors to represent Ireland with stablemates Finn Lynch and Ewan McMahon.

Liam Glynn of Ballyholme Yacht Club Photo: Thom TouwLiam Glynn of Ballyholme Yacht Club Photo: Thom Touw

Rising through the youth and u21 ranks, securing a World Junior title and u21 Bronze along the way. Liam has shown steady progression in what is arguably one of the harder Olympic Classes to break. Most recently a 43rd in last October's European Championship shows encouraging signs for the future. 


He comments: "I am looking forward to racing at the final Olympics qualification regatta. With two European spots still available to the goal is simple, finish in the top two non-qualified nations. I am very grateful for the opportunity to race against the best in the world, especially amid a global pandemic.

"It has been a challenging winter of training but I am pleased with my form and mindset in these final months preparation. I will set my sights firmly on what is achievable, with the help of my amazing support team, each day from now until the end of the regatta and enjoy the experience along the way."

Glynn adds: "It is an exciting prospect to be competing for Olympic qualification and I would love to give all the followers at home something to cheer for this summer."

RYA Northern Ireland's Performance Manager, Andrew Baker, says it is an exciting few months ahead for the sailors and supporters.

He comments: "These three events will be a milestone in the RYA Northern Ireland Performance Programme. Not only do we have three athletes representing across three different classes but they also stand out as large international events which over the past year have been few and far between due to Covid."

He adds: "I am very happy that we are in the position to have three sailors vying for Olympic qualification. All the sailors have worked their way through our club racing scene and performance pathways. The hard work is done, it is now time to trust in their training, believe in their ability and get out there to do it. 

Published in Tokyo 2020

Irish Tokyo 2021 solo campaigner, 27-year-old Donaghadee Sailing Club member Oisin McClelland has clinched a personal best, claiming 23rd spot at the Finn European Championships at Gdynia in Poland. The event ran from 1st to 6th September and was the sailor's first official race since lockdown took hold.

Consistent scoring throughout secured a position in the top 30 of the 70-strong fleet before the final challenging day on the Saturday at which point he was lying in 26th place with one day left. During Sunday's final races Oisin posted his best performances to date with an 18th and 11th which allowed him to climb back up the leader board into a final rank of 23rd. The winner was Zsombor Berecz of Hungary.

Speaking about his success, Oisin commented: "It is great to be back out racing for the first time since January at the European Championships. I had put a lot of work into my downwind sailing during lockdown and this really paid off, it got me out of trouble in such a tricky venue. I was pleased to finish strong in the last two races after a tough race on the previous day."

RYA Northern Ireland's newly appointed High Performance Manager, Andrew Baker, said: "it is fantastic to see Oisin back on the water and utilising the skills he worked so hard on during lockdown. To secure a top 25 spot at the European Championships is no mean feat and he should be proud of such a solid performance."

Oisin is now back on the road and heading for Kiel Week Regatta which runs from 10 – 13 September.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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The countdown is on for three Northern Ireland sailors campaigning for their place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in late July this year, writes Betty Armstrong.

The athletes, who have been training for over four years, as part of their Olympic campaigns, will take to the waters on 11 April to battle it out at the nine-day qualifying competition in Genoa.

In the running is two-time Olympian and World Cup silver medallist Ryan Seaton, from Carrickfergus. Seaton paired up with new crew Seafra Guilfoyle from Cork in the 49er class, following his 10th place finish with Matt McGovern at Rio in 2016.

McGovern is now coach to the Irish 49er teams, all vying for an Olympic place.

Ryan and Seafra finished 10th at the Olympic Test event in Enoshima and recently finished 30th at the 2020 World Championships. They are embarking on a critical training phase in the lead up to the Olympic qualifier and subsequent European Championships in May.

Seaton comments: “Seafra and I have been training well and putting critical elements of speed and boat handling together over this winter period. Our focus has been to get more race practice and working under pressure to refine our performances and add consistency to a regatta week.”

Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle in action at the 49er Worlds in Australia last month (Photo: Jesus Renedo/Sailing Energy)Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle in action at the 49er Worlds in Australia last month | Photo: Jesus Renedo/Sailing Energy

The Finn is a dinghy not normally associated with Donaghadee Sailing Club, but DSC member Oisin McClelland is another contender.

Campaigning in the men’s heavyweight Finn class since 2015, McClelland has secured several top 32 World and European finishes. In January he finished fourth in the Miami World Cup Series event, just narrowly missing out on a bronze medal.

He says: “Really nailing down all elements that make up a successful Olympic campaign was definitely difficult at the start but over time I have been able to get consistent and make big improvements.”

Ballyholme’s Liam Glynn is also gearing up for the challenge in Genoa. Rising through the youth and U21 ranks, he has secured a world junior title and U21 bronze along the way and recently achieved a personal best finish in the Laser at the recent World Championships in Australia.

As part of the Irish Performance Laser squad, the Bangor sailor has been training hard, with a typical day including up to six hours of training, looking at racing skills and focusing on nutrition and recovery.

Commenting on his Olympic campaign so far, Glynn says: “I am motivated by my love of the sport, the feeling when you are in the zone and perfecting your technique and strategy amongst the best sailors in the world.”

Liam Glynn recently scored a personal best result in the LaserLiam Glynn recently scored a personal best result in the Laser

All three sailors graduated through the RYA Northern Ireland’s Performance Pathway and are funded through Sport Northern Ireland. Seaton and Glynn are members of the Irish Performance Team.

In sailing, nations can qualify in 10 Olympic disciplines but just one boat is eventually selected to represent each nation in each discipline.

For the NI athletes, their last chance for a European place in the Finn, Laser and 49er fleets is up for grabs at the Sailing World Cup next month.

RYA Northern Ireland’s chief operating officer Richard Honeyford, is looking forward to supporting the sailors as they make their final preparations.

“For all three boats the focus is now on one event in April and for the final chance to secure their place at Tokyo 2020,” he says. “All three have worked extremely hard during this Olympic cycle, with vast amounts of training, competing and travel to achieve their goal.

“At RYA Northern Ireland we are proud of how well they have applied themselves and their inspirational role as ambassadors for sailing in Northern Ireland.

“We look forward to the sailing community supporting them as they undertake this final challenge for Olympic qualification.”

The RYANI has congratulated Donaghadee sailor Oisin McClelland on his strong showing at the Hempel World Cup Series in Miami last week.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Finn sailor from Northern Ireland finished fourth, just shy of the podium, after Saturday’s (25 January) medal race on Biscayne Bay.

RYANI chief operating officer Richard Honeyford said: “Oisin sailed well throughout the week in Miami. He secured three top three finishes in the 10-race series and really showed his skill in the stronger breeze.

“While he narrowly missed out on the bronze and a podium place in the end, Oisin’s hard work and training throughout the year really paid off.

“He is a fantastic role model for our young sailors and at RYANI we look forward to supporting Oisin as he continues in his campaign for the Tokyo Olympics.”

McClelland will have one more last chance to claim a spot in this summer’s Tokyo Olympics at the final European qualifier, the Hempel World Cup series event in Genoa, Italy from 11 April.

Northern Ireland’s Oisin McClelland was resurgent on the waters of Biscayne Bay yesterday (Saturday 25 January) but finished just shy of the podium after the Finn medal race at the Hempel World Cup Series Miami.

The Donaghadee Sailing Club stalwart finished fifth in the final, ahead of Luke Muller of the USA whose points total over the week was enough to secure the bronze for himself.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, American Caleb Paine had already won Finn gold ahead of the weekend with his unassailable lead over Canada’s Kyle Martin, who took the silver medal and finished second in yesterday’s race.

McClelland will have his last chance to claim a spot in this summer's Tokyo Olympics at the Hempel World Cup series event in Genoa, Italy from 11 April.

Yesterday's Finn medal race can be watched back in full below:

Published in Tokyo 2020
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