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Dublin teenager Eve McMahon's bid for the Tokyo Olympics got a boost today when she finished top of four Irish girls competing in the opening day of the Laser Radial World Championships in Melbourne.

Light and flukey winds frustrated competitors and race officials alike, allowing for only one of the scheduled two races on Port Philip Bay.

McMahon (HYC) was best of the Irish finishing 20th in the yellow fleet, ahead of Aoife Hopkins (HYC) in 45th place. In the Blue fleet, Annalise Murphy (NYC) recorded a 38th place, while Aisling Keller (LDYC) came 42nd. Read Afloat's championship preview here.

Defending titleholder Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) took first place in Yellow Fleet while Marie Barrue (FRA) won Blue Fleet.

“It was a bit light,” Anne-Marie said of the conditions. “The change didn’t really come through.” But 12 races are scheduled for the regatta. “It’s early days, but it’s a good way to start,” she added.

Yellow Fleet had the better of the weather, getting away shortly after the scheduled start time in six knots of breeze and managing to finish before the wind began swinging wildly.

Those in Blue Fleet had a frustrating day, with their race abandoned at the first mark owing to a 30-degree shift. It is an ill wind that blows nobody any good and Australian Olympic hopeful, Mara Stransky, said she was caught too far left in a poor position when the abandonment came. She regrouped and finished the re-started race in fifth position. “I’m happy after such a whacky day,” she said.

Olympic champion, Marit Bouwmeester (NED) finished in third place in Blue Fleet and described it as ‘OK’. “It’s a nice way to start the event,” she said. “The race committee had a challenging day with all the wind shifts, but it’s good to get one race in, to get the regatta started.”

Maud Jayet (SUI) and Vasileia Karachaliou (GRE) share third place overall after finishing second in their respective fleets.

The ILCA Laser Radial Men’s World Championship is being sailed at the same venue, with the fleet dominated by Australians. But it was a Russian, Daniil Krutskikh, who won today’s race, followed by locals Michael Compton and Jordan Makin.

Like the women’s Blue Fleet, the men had several re-starts and abandonments before getting their first race off, and completed.

With light winds forecast for tomorrow morning, the race committee has announced a first signal be at 2 pm, as scheduled. If the winds settle as forecast, they will try to get three races sailed to get the regatta back on schedule.

Provisional Results after Day 1

Laser Radial Women’s Worlds
1 – Marie BARRUE (FRA) 1
1 – Anne-Marie RINDOM (DEN) 1
3 – Maud JAYET (SUI) 2
3 – Vasileia KARACHALIOU (GRE) 2
5 – Marit BOUWMEESTER (NED) 3
5 – Svenja WEGER (GER) 3
7 – Mirthe AKKERMAN (NED) 4
7 – Marie BOLOU (FRA) 4
9 – Sarah DOUGLAS (CAN) 5
9 – Mara STRANSKY (AUS) 5

Published in Tokyo 2020
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The National Yacht Club's Finn Lynch finished his Australian Laser World Championships in 31st place, bookending the final three races with a first and a U flag disqualification. Compatriot Ewan McMahon of Howth Yacht Club also had a first on the final day, albeit in the silver fleet. This helped to lift him one place above fellow countryman Liam Glynn of Belfast Lough as they finished 31st and 32nd in the silver fleet.

This week was not an Olympic Qualification for Ireland but it was an important testbed. Lynch, who has been campaigning for four years since Rio has yet to make that cut and has one final opportunity to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, at Genoa in April, but with only two slots available for European contenders it will be a tough ask, particularly as three other unqualified nations (BEL, ITA, NED) finished ahead of Lynch.

German sailor Philipp Buhl put together an exemplary scorecard to win the 2020 ILCA Standard Men’s World Championship by 12 points.

Buhl recorded four straight wins during the qualifying series and finished the 12-race event with just one double-figure score, a 10th in the penultimate race, which he was able to discard.

After being showered with champagne by his supporters on the beach, Buhl said it was hard to describe the winning feeling. “The week just happened,” he said. “When I got the two firsts on the second day, that gave me good momentum, but I knew anything could happen up until the second race today (when he knew he was unable to be beaten). I had good first beats, good downwind speed. It all came together for me this week.

“I’ve come close to a world championship a few times before. It’s so incredibly hard to make it happen. I think the Laser is the hardest class to win a World Championship. I’m just so happy!”

Australia’s Matt Wearn also put together a single-figure card to take the silver. Wearn didn’t win a race, but had five second places and discarded an 11th place finish.

“Obviously I would have liked to have won,” he said. “But I’ve still got a fair bit to work on so I’m happy to take second in a World Championship. This level definitely tests the form and I’ve been working on a few things all week. I’m still making silly mistakes here and there so I’ve got to iron those out and move one step up the podium (in Tokyo).”

Rio silver medallist, Tonci Stipanovic of Croatia finished third overall after an up-and-down regatta that included two race wins, two second places and four scores that were in double figures.

Jean-Baptiste Bernaz had challenged Buhl during the qualifying stage of the regatta, but a Black Flag in race 7 and a 32nd place in race 10 ruined his chances. To the Frenchman’s credit, Bernaz bounced back to win the next race following both those high scores. With six race wins in total from the 12 race series, he finished fourth, just two points behind Stipanovic.

Defending champion Tom Burton of Australia has been racing in the Moth and other classes after learning he had not been selected for Tokyo 2020 and his lack of time in the Laser showed. Burton finished in 15th place after receiving a ‘U Flag’ disqualification for starting early in the final race.

The 2015 and 2016 World Champion, Nick Thompson of Great Britain also had a regatta he would prefer to forget, finishing in 19th place and probably missing his country’s nomination for Tokyo after compatriot Elliot Hanson finished 5th. However, Team GB does not have specific selection criteria, so both sailors will have to wait for the announcement.

It was a similar story for New Zealand, where Rio bronze medallist, Sam Meech, was that country’s leading sailor in 8th place, but must wait to hear if he has done enough to get on the plane to Tokyo later this year.

This championship did decide the fate of Hungarian brothers Benjamin and Jonatan Vadnai, however. By finishing in 23rd, Ben will attend his second Olympics and his younger brother must wait another four years for his chance.

This was probably the last World Championship for Laser legend, Robert Scheidt, who qualified for Gold Fleet and finished in 42nd place after becoming ill and failing to sail on the final day. The 47-year-old, who won gold in the Laser at Atlanta 1996 and Athens 2004 and silver behind Sir Ben Ainslie in 2000, showed he can still compete with men half his age.

The championship was raced in a wide variety of conditions, with winds from all points of the compass. However, the best sailors seemed unfazed, even when three races were held in cold and miserable weather yesterday.

There was considerable praise for the race management team and the host, Sandringham Yacht Club, who produced a well-organized regatta which included fast launching and retrieval of the 124 boats, a chef-cooked post-race snack each day for all competitors and various environmental initiatives such as a supply of chilled potable water to refill the sailors’ bottles.

The International Laser Class Association is expected to announce the venue for the 2021 World Championships later this year.

Results can be found here: http://sailingresults.net/sa/results/overall.aspx?ID=80326.1

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Finn Lynch slipped down the leaderboard of the Laser World Championships on day one of the gold fleet series. Scoring a 36, 30 and 19 in the 42-boat fleet, he now lies 28th overall. Compatriots Liam Glynn and Ewan McMahon are 19th and 39th respectively in the silver fleet.

Two Olympic medallists and the sailor who holds second place overall made it tough for themselves in very testing conditions at the ILCA Laser Standard Men’s World Championship today.

Double Olympic champion Robert Scheidt (BRA), London 2012 silver medallist Pavlos Kontides (CYP) and Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Bernaz were all black-flagged after the race committee had been forced into numerous general recalls.

With all sailors able to drop their worst race from their overall score, it hasn’t yet ruined their regatta. But they know they can’t afford another bad one.

It was a cold, wet and windy day in Melbourne, with the pressure slowly building from 18 knots to around 25 knots by the end of the afternoon, blowing from the south. No sailing was possible yesterday, so three races were sailed today, making it physically and mentally demanding for the sailors.

One man who appeared unfazed by the weather and the pressure was competition leader Philipp Buhl (GER) who had scores of 2,3 and 5 to go with his four race wins from previous days. Buhl has extended his lead over Bernaz to four points, but the Frenchman now has the spectre of the 42 point black flag to carry into the final day. He knows that one bad race will drop him out of medal contention.

“I was disappointed when I saw that I had been black-flagged,” he said. “I thought I was OK, and we will ask (the race committee to review the tapes). I know which race will be my drop now. I just had to get two good results in the other races and I did that.”

Buhl echoed the comments of other sailors, who said that it had been a very tiring day. “It was extremely exhausting,” he said of the three-race programme. “But I am pretty happy with how things went.”

Australian Matt Wearn has moved into third place after another solid performance. Today he was 4th, 8th and 2nd to be 11 points behind the Frenchman but a clear 10 points ahead of fourth-placed Briton Elliott Hanson, who would appear to have done enough to secure his first Olympic team spot.

“It was hard work,” Wearn said of the day’s sailing, “Made harder when you miss the shift off the start in the first two races. I had to work harder than I’d like to get back into it.”

This had been an extremely close championship during qualifying, but the gaps are now starting to appear. Three more races are scheduled for tomorrow’s final day, with conditions likely to be similar to today.

Those who are able to recover best from today’s gruelling workout are likely to top the leaderboard, while further down the fleet there are still man-on-man battles to decide who goes to the Olympic Games.

Results can be found at http://sailingresults.net/sa/results/overall.aspx?ID=80326.1

Published in Tokyo 2020
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The fourth day of racing at the ILCA Laser Standard Men’s World Championship was abandoned today, owing to a series of thunderstorms that swept across Port Phillip Bay.

Scheduled to be the first day of Gold Fleet racing, which brings together the best 42 sailors at the event, it instead became a day of watch and wait for the race committee.

At 3pm, as the second of the fronts carrying thunder and lightning appeared on the horizon, Race Director Peter Merritt ordered AP over A to be hoisted on the Sandringham Yacht Club flagpole, signalling no further racing for the day.

With their Lasers already packed away to prevent damage from the storms, sailors and support staff made a beeline for the exit gate, looking to get home before the rain began to fall in earnest.

The race committee has announced that racing will start an hour earlier than scheduled on Saturday and Sunday, with three races now scheduled for those days.

If they are successful, the full complement of 12 races will be sailed.

After six races of qualifying, Phillip Buhl (GER) leads the regatta with a score of 6 points after discarding a 4th placing in the opening race of the regatta. Jean-Baptiste Bernaz (FRA) is two points further back, with Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) in third. Only 15 points separate first from tenth, ensuring interesting racing for the remainder of the Championship.

Ireland’s Finn Lynch, lies in 22nd place, 36 points behind the leader. Ewan McMahon (63rd) and Liam Glynn (73rd) will compete in the Silver fleet.

Results can be found at http://sailingresults.net/?ID=80326

Meanwhile, in Geelong a similar fate beset the 49er, 49erFX Worlds. With no racing on Friday, February 14 due to summer storms that wreaked havoc with the breeze, Saturday’s final day of the 49er, 49er and Nacra 17 2020 World Championship looks like this:

Schedule:

  • Two gold fleet races for all three fleets commencing from 0955hrs
  • Two silver and bronze fleet races immediately following
  • Three medal races commencing from 1355hrs in the following order: Nacra 17, 49erFX, 49er

Saturday’s forecast is promising - wind out of the south-west building to the class’ upper limit of 25 knots, a figure that also takes into consideration the sea-state, which is not a factor at this flat-water venue. Showers are forecast and the hope is they will clear early and not hinder the breeze once again.

Summer storms passed over and around the host city, bringing thunder, rain and lightning, and leaving sick breeze in each frontal system’s wake. The race committee took off on boats after 4pm thinking there was a chance of a late green light, but it was not to be.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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With races completed, Irish Laser sailors Finn Lynch and Ewan McMahon are lying 20th and 76th respectively. Irish champion Liam Glynn of Belfast Lough is 80th. 

The National Yacht Club's Lynch continued his day one performance with a 14th and 4th, while Howth Yacht Club's McMahon added 27th and 21st places to his tally.

On a day of strong but shifting winds, Germany’s Philipp Buhl and Jean-Baptiste Bernaz from France found a little more speed than the rest of their competitors to finish the second day tied at the top of the Laser World Championship standings.

With the 124 sailors split into three fleets of around 40, Buhl and Bernaz each won both their races today to sit on just three points after discarding their worst result from yesterday.

With the discard coming into play after four races, the leader board remains tight. There are just eight points separating the top 10.

Buhl said he was happy with how his speed went. “It was a speed race today. The wind was shifty, so good starts also helped. In the second race I thought I had more speed than anyone, but when I looked around Wearny (world number one Matt Wearn) was right on my shoulder. It was a lot of fun, but exhausting.”

Bernaz echoed the comments about speed, saying he had recovered from a yellow flag (issued by the on-water jury) that forced him to do penalty turns and had used his speed to get back into the lead.

“The second race was a dragster, where we all banged the left corner. But I was leading from the beginning. I am very happy.”

Overnight co-leaders Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) and Finn Alexander (AUS) hold equal third position, two points behind the leaders. Both finished mid-teens in the first race of the day, which they could discard, then followed up with a second placing each in race four.

The big movers were Australians Luke “Swifto” Elliott and Matt Wearn who both discarded a sixth place from yesterday. Elliott scored a win and a second place in yellow fleet while Wearn had two seconds behind Philipp Buhl in red fleet.

Elliott said that qualifying was just about getting into gold fleet. “I had a couple of good races and it’s nice to be racing well, but really it’s the second half (of the regatta) that matters.”

Further down the fleet, the battles continue among countrymen for Olympic selection.

Britons Michael Beckett and Elliot Hanson are separated by a single point, in 10th and 11th respectively while 2016 Rio representative Nick Thompson had a slightly better day, moving up from 29th to 26th.

New Zealand’s Thomas Saunders holds a five point lead over Rio bronze medallist Sam Meech, but Meech is putting together a very consistent regatta – he has been fifth in all four races he has sailed.

The Hungarian team also has a selection dilemma on their hands, and it’s very personal. The country has qualified for a spot at the Olympics but is yet to select its sailor – which will be one or other of the Vadnai brothers. At this early stage Benjamin, who is ranked 31st in the world, has a healthy 17 point lead over his higher-ranked brother Jonatan.

The Laser format calls for a 12 race series, with sailors being divided into gold, silver and bronze fleets after six races of qualifying.

The forecast for tomorrow is for strong winds, which should ensure that the final two qualifying races can be completed. Unfortunately, the forecast for Friday, Saturday and especially Sunday afternoons is for lighter winds that could be variable in direction. However, this is Melbourne, where weather can change quickly, so race management is not too worried – yet.

With a tight top 10, the coming days should make for fascinating viewing.

Provisional Top-10 results after four races:
1. Philipp BUHL (GER) 3 pts.
2. Jean Baptiste BERNAZ (FRA) 3 pts.
3. Tonci STIPANOVIC (CRO) 5 pts.
4. Finn ALEXANDER (AUS) 5 pts.
5. Luke ELLIOTT (AUS) 6 pts.
6. Matt WEARN (AUS) 8 pts.
7. Rutger VAN SCHAARDENBURG (NED) 8 pts.
8. Filip JURIŠIC (CRO) 4 9 pts.
9. Thomas SAUNDERS (NZL) 10 pts.

Results can be found at http://sailingresults.net/?ID=80326

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Irish Laser Olympic hopeful, Finn Lynch, lies in 22nd place after a 14,3 score in the first day of racing at the Laser World Championship in Melbourne, Australia. Compatriots Liam Glynn and Ewan McMahon are 91st and 102nd respectively. Australian Finn Alexander and Rio Olympic silver medalist Tonci Stipanovic of Croatia are tied after the first day of racing.

The National Yacht Club's Lynch who is supported by Dun Laoghaire's Viking Marine was targeting a higher place in Race 2 but overstood the top mark in the final round. While Olympic Qualification is not available for Ireland at this event, form here should carry forward to the next (and final) qualifier, the Sailing World Cup event in Genoa, Italy, April 13-19.

The first day started slowly, with all three fleets held onshore while the race committee waited for an almost non-existent westerly to back to the southeast and freshen. This it duly did, and the first race got underway at 3:30 pm in 8-10 knots from the SSE. By the time the second race started at around 5 pm, the wind had freshened to 15 knots and was relatively steady from the south.

German, Philipp Buhl, is in third place on five points — two points ahead of London 2012 silver medalist Pavlos Kontides. Ranked number one in the world, Australian Matt Wearn is in 10th overall, seven points from the lead. “It was a pretty average day,” said Wearn. “I made it look harder than it needed to be.” Wearn also felt he was hunted a bit, as the sail numbers being used have been issued in order of the latest world rankings. “People see the number one on the sail and want to take you out. In both races there were passing lanes, but I couldn’t find them.”

Defending champion Tom Burton of Australia also had an average day by his standards, with a 7th and a 13th which leaves him tied for 29th overall. “I sailed OK but the results don’t show it,” he said. “In the second race I was third around the top mark then got caught up in a big group going slow and couldn’t get myself out of it.”

Tomorrow’s forecast is for stronger winds which could increase to just under 25 knots by Thursday.

Top-10 after 2 races:
1. Finn ALEXANDER (AUS) 3 pts
2. Tonci STIPANOVIC (CRO) 3 pts
3. Philipp BUHL (GER) 5 pts
4. Pavlos KONTIDES (CYP) 7 pts
5. Jean Baptiste BERNAZ (FRA) pts
6. Tadeusz KUBIAK (POL) 9 pts
7. Luke ELLIOTT (AUS) 9 pts
8. Elliot HANSON (GBR) 10 pts
9. Benjamin VADNAI (HUN) 10 pts
10. Matt WEARN (AUS) 10 pts

Full Results here

Published in Tokyo 2020
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On Saturday 8th of February, a handful of Cork sailing fanatics converged on the Sandquay, to race the fourth day of the 2020 Monkstown Laser Frostbite league in Cork Harbour.

The morning dawned with a black, rainy sky blanketing the county of Cork. The air was humid and the drizzle was cold, all because of the infamous storm that has been hot news on every weather forecast the length of the country. It all looked decidedly ominous. It takes more than a storm to stop these weather-hardened sailors, so all arrived in Monkstown in fine spirits and ready for a morning’s racing. 

Only a quarter of the regular fleet chose to race. This meant that only six competitors got out of their cars, to rig up their dinghies in the high wind. Onlookers were taken aback, as the league participants made ready to hit the water. Rigs were raised with great difficulty as the wind threatened to knock them back down. Monkstown residents were awoken with the sound of flogging sails. Rigging was completed and the sailors began the descent down the slip to hit the boiling waters of Monkstown Bay.

Laser leagueMBSC sailors heading downwind before a squall

First to launch his Laser was MBSC’s Ronan Kenneally, as enthusiastic as ever to test the wild conditions. The wind ripped across the bay, averaging 25 knots and gusting over 30 knots from the South West. Alas, Kenneally broke his boom before anyone else had launched. He quickly retreated to shore, not put out in the slightest, where he simply rigged another boom and launched with the other sailors. 

The six laser sailors sailed out to the course situated at the southern end of the Marina. The wind ripped down, tearing up the water. Race Officer Alan Fehily with his team, Judy Moynihan and John Hegarty, set a windward/leeward course with the help of Emmett O’ Sullivan and Simon Butler in the low-sprung crash boat.

The start was scheduled for 10:10 am. As the competitors blasted around in the heavy breeze, the start went into sequence right on time. A strong ebb tide pushed against the wind, making the start a tricky manoeuvre. With gusts hitting the water at 35 knots, the gun went and race one was underway.

The small fleet kept the racing close as the competitors battled up to the windward mark. The wind became patchy as they came closer to land, with extreme gusts from all angles threatening to knock the dinghies over. These were of no moment to the competitors and the fleet rounded the top mark in succession. Three rounds of the course were to be completed. The wind increased even more, causing a few capsizes among the fleet. As the finish line came into sight, it was MBSC’s Chris Bateman, Inniscarra’s James Long, and MBSC’s Ronan Kenneally in first, second and third. These positions held true across the line. 

Race two began in equal amounts of wind. The sailors battled upwind in the solid 30 knots of wind, successfully staying upright. They reached the windward mark, with your correspondent in the lead. James Long was just behind, with Kenneally in third. Masts threatened to snap as the fleet screamed down to the leeward mark, where Bateman capsized in a wild gybe around the leeward mark, with Long and Kenneally planing right behind. Two rounds of the course later, and your correspondent managed to take first place. James long maintained his second place for the majority of the race, but he too capsized in a gybe around the leeward mark. This let Kenneally sail through into second place, while Long finished up in third. 

The third and final race of the day was the most difficult, as it began in the most breeze. With the knowledge that all events across the country had been cancelled, the enthusiastic Cork sailors began the ascent to the windward mark. The gusts were vicious, knocking over half the fleet. Kenneally took the lead, ahead of your correspondent and James Long. As Kenneally and Bateman battled it out downwind, the competitors just behind screamed down to the leeward mark. Two insane, very close rounds of the course later, and your correspondent took first position. Kenneally followed up in second, while just behind James Long and RCYC’s Robin Bateman were having a battle of their own. A gust of over 30 knots managed to capsize Long, allowing Robin Bateman to sail through into third place. 

Although the races were finished, nobody was out of the woods yet. The shoreline looked good, but there was still one more downwind home. A squall recorded over 35 knots tore up the bay, as Bateman and Kenneally screamed downwind, with insane amounts of pressure on the hull and rigs, boat speed topping over 20 knots, The two just made it back, broad-reaching across the dockyard. The other competitors were further up the bay and had further to come. This resulted in several wipeouts. Once upright, everyone enjoyed the crazy-fast broad reach home. 

MBSC Laser Results

Once ashore safely, everyone staggered up the slip pulling their battered dinghies behind them. As usual, the sailors were in before 12 O'Clock. Showers, food and warmth awaited, but the competitors will remember how they had conquered the storm in the finest fashion possible. The lasers were put to bed, and the sailors departed.

Next week marks the final day of the series, so join us on the water for some of the finest dinghy racing in the harbour.

Published in Laser
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Only a handful of spots remain for youth sailors in spring training programmes for Optimist, Topper and RS Feva sailors organised by the National Yacht Club for the 2020 season.

Spring training for Oppys runs for five Sunday afternoons beginning on 1 March. Only two places remain as of time of writing — to register (and optionally charter a club boat) see the NYC website HERE.

The Topper spring coaching programme is already under way, but a handful of places remain in the Advanced Racer and Improvers groups. More details and online registration can be found HERE.

And coaching for RS Feva juniors begins later this month on 23 February, with only two spots to spare. Details and registration HERE.

This month will also see a team racing clinic at the Royal Irish Yacht Club on Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 February during the upcoming midterm break.

The Irish Sailing-supported initiative for team racing is offered at the special price of only €25 for the two days of training, and is open to anyone (including non-club members) who has a competent level of sailing experience but is most suited to at least Level 3 or equivalent.

Sign-ups are still open for the Dun Laoghaire Youth Laser spring training programme, which continues this month with a focus on preparing 4.7 sailors for Easter trials and Radials for the Europeans at Ballyholme in July.

And dates have been finalised for NYC’s junior summer courses, each of two weeks’ duration:

  • Course 1: Tuesday 2 to Friday 12 June
  • Course 2: Monday 15 to Friday 26 June
  • Course 3: Monday 29 June to Friday 10 July
  • Course 4: Monday 13 July to Friday 24 July
  • Course 5: Monday 27 July to Friday 7 August

These will involve the full suite of Irish Sailing levels (Start Sailing, Basic Skills, Improving Skills, Racing, Advanced Boat Handling, Adventure) over each course.

Published in Team Racing

The Irish Olympic Sailing team start competing in Australia at two separate World Championships next week.

The 49er World Championships

First off are the 49er World Championships in Geelong, Victoria. Ireland will be represented by two teams, Olympian Ryan Seaton (Ballyholme Yacht Club) and Seafra Guilfoyle (Royal Cork Yacht Club), and Robert Dickson (Howth Yacht Club) and Sean Waddilove (Skerries Sailing Club). Racing starts on Monday 10 February and concludes 15 February.

Hosted by the Royal Geelong Yacht Club, the 49er World Championships will see 77 boats compete from 26 countries.

The ILCA Laser World Championships

The following day, Tuesday 11 February will see the start of the Laser men’s races at the ILCA Laser World Championships, taking place in Melbourne (Sandringham Yacht Club). Competing are Olympian and Carlow native Finn Lynch (National Yacht Club), Liam Glynn (Ballyholme Yacht Club) and Ewan McMahon (Howth Yacht Club). There are 131 competitors from 45 countries.

A Mix of Youth & Experience

Both 49er and Laser classes have a mix of youth and experience. In the 49er two-time Olympic veteran Ryan Seaton will be hoping to regain some of the form that saw him make the medal race final in the 2016 Olympic Games. He now sails with Seafra Guilfoyle. Hot on their heels are the U23 Bronze medallists Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove. They are still learning the ropes on the senior circuit but had an impressive World Championships at the end of last year, making Gold fleet.

In the Laser, Olympian Finn Lynch is competing alongside Liam Glynn, and Ewan McMahon who is relatively new to the senior circuit. This is only Ewan’s second World Championships and he will be hoping to repeat his impressive Gold Fleet performance at his debut Worlds.

Laser Radial Women compete for Ireland’s spot at the Olympics

With Ireland having secured a boat in the Laser Radial at the Tokyo Olympics this summer, four Irish women now begin their battle for that spot. The women’s races at the ILCA Laser World Championships start a week after the men on 23 February. This is the first event of three to decide who will represent Ireland (the other two being the Trofeo Princesa Sofia in Palma, March, and the Hyeres Regatta, France in April).

In the mix is Olympic silver medallist Annalise Murphy (National Yacht Club) fresh from her silver medal at Sail Melbourne in January, Aoife Hopkins (Howth Yacht Club), Aisling Keller (Lough Derg Yacht Club) and Eve McMahon (Howth Yacht Club) who won the U17 Gold Medal at Sail Melbourne.

111 competitors will compete from 41 countries.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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It was February 1st, and the hardy band of Cork Harbour Laser sailors regrouped for day three of the Monkstown Laser Frostbite League, in beautiful racing conditions. 

A low sun arose over Cork Harbour in the early hours of the morning. A slight chill in the air was enough to inflict a bite, but not enough to stop thirteen enthusiastic sailors from arriving on the Sandquay at 9 am. A windy forecast was on the cards and gusts of up to 27 knots were due later in the morning. The sky was cloudless and Monkstown Bay looked promising. 

A south-westerly breeze blew across the bay, peaking at a low 10 knots of wind. The tide was high and weak. The competitors launched their Lasers off the Sandquay, to join the race committee.

A windward/leeward course had been set, with a windward mark situated in the creek near Raffeen. The 10:10 am scheduled start was right on time and the thirteen Laser sailors found their positions on the small start line. Three minutes went by and race one was underway.

Monkstown Bay Laser dinghy RacingSailors in shot (Left to right) Fionn Lyden, Chris Bateman, James Long, Alex Barry (IRL)

Launching off the line was MBSC’s Ronan Kenneally, who crossed the fleet with a spectacular port tack flyer. This put him into the lead just ahead of the fleet. Conditions were tough, with a gusty wind mixing things up. Kenneally held his lead around the windward mark just in front of BSC’s Fionn Lyden MBSC’s Chris Bateman. But things were not all as they seemed and the ace Finn sailor (Lyden) sailed past Kenneally using his downwind skills. The breeze was increasing slowly as they sailed downwind. Bateman chose the opposite side of the course and managed to round the leeward mark just ahead of Lyden and Kenneally. Paths were chosen carefully as the competitors travelled upwind, working through the shifty wind. All remained vigilant and two rounds later, your correspondent took first place. Taking the second position was Lyden, with Kenneally following just behind in third.

In the Radial category, MBSC’s Harry Pritchard took first place, with MBSC’s Philip Doherty following up in second place.

Race two began with much more wind. There was now a steady 13-knot wind gusting up over 16 knots. The high tide was still weak and the competitors had no trouble beating up to the mark. Pulling away into the lead was Sunday’s Well sailor Paul O’Sullivan, followed by radial sailor Philip Doherty in second. The top mark was seeing heavy wind and a wild gust caught out O’Sullivan, as he spun into an almost-saved death roll. This capsize let Doherty pull into the lead, with Bateman just behind. Doherty blasted away from the fleet in the high wind and rounded the leeward mark in first. As they continued on the upwind leg, Doherty’s radial rig lacked the extra ‘grunt’ in the lulls, allowing your correspondent to sail through in the full rig. The last downwind leg saw Fionn Lyden sail through the radial sailor, followed up by MBSC’s Alex Barry. Taking first place was Bateman and in second place was Lyden. Light-weight sailor Alex Barry managed the heavy weather well and took third place.

In the Radial category, MBSC’s Phil Doherty showed heavy weather speed and took a comfortable first place. MBSC’s Harry Pritchard followed up in second, having struggled in the big breeze.

The wind had piped up for race three, the last race of the day. A strong, gusty wind blew across the land from the west. These are tricky conditions at best, with rogue wind shifts threatening to capsize the laser dinghies. The competitors set off and immediately started to work their boats to maximum speed. Leading around the windward mark was O’Sullivan, with Kenneally in second. A heavy gust of over 22 knots let Kenneally sail through O’ Sullivan. As the competitors planed towards the leeward mark, the wind was gusting over 25 knots. Your correspondent sailed around the leeward mark just ahead of Kenneally, with Lyden closing in. The wind whipped across the water, making the windward mark rounding a task. Lyden and Kenneally battled it out, with Kenneally sailing over the top of Lyden. The heavy wind was of no moment to the fleet as they all blasted downwind to the finish line. Taking first place was your correspondent. In second position was Kenneally, with Lyden sailing through into third. 

In the Radial fleet, Heavy weather specialist Phil Doherty took another win. Harry Pritchard finished up in second place.

So, a great end to what was an epic morning on the water. The sailors headed for shore, whipped with wind and spray. Warmth and rest awaited on shore, all the that was needed to relax after a hard morning’s sailing. 

Join us next week on the water, where the stellar race committee and mark layers will make sure you get the most out of your Saturday morning, and will never disappoint!

Published in Laser
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