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National Yacht Club's Finn Lynch Earns Bronze Medal at European ILCA 7 Championships in Athens

24th February 2024
Finn Lynch (left) adds 2024 European Bronze to his world championship silver at Barcelona in 2021 after a thrilling final day at the European ILCA 7 Championships in Athens
Finn Lynch adds 2024 European Bronze to his world championship silver at Barcelona in 2021 after a thrilling final day at the European ILCA 7 Championships in Athens Credit: Matias Capizzano

With a final day turn of speed, the National Yacht Club's Finn Lynch won the bronze medal at the ILCA 7 European Championships in Athens today (Friday, 23rd February 2024) after a three-race final day that ended the weather-hit event.

The Carlow sailor had a consistent day of top-ten results to end the eight-race regatta on equal points with Hungary’s Jonatan Vadnai, who took the silver on a tie-break.

This marks Vadnai’s second Senior Europeans medal, following his Bronze win in 2021, while it’s Lynch’s first Senior European prize in his career.

Finn Lynch turned on the speed in the final three races at the 2024 European Championships in Greece to come from 14th place to third overall to win his first Senior European prize of ILCA 7 in his career. Photo: Matias CapizannoFinn Lynch turned on the speed in the final three races at the 2024 European Championships in Greece to come from 14th place to third overall to win his first Senior European prize of ILCA 7 in his career. Photo: Matias Capizanno

Both boats were just four points off Gold, where Valterri Uusiltalo topped the 141-boat fleet for Finland.

Lynch now adds a Bronze to his world championship silver at Barcelona in 2021 as he aims to secure the Irish place for the Men's single-handed event at the Paris 2024 Olympics this Summer.

Green Rebel McMahon

The Rio 2016 Olympic veteran was in the second round of a selection trials series with Ewan McMahon (Howth YC), who ended this week's event in 17th place and, at times, was leading Lynch.

While a third regatta was included in the Irish selection trials series, Lynch cannot be beaten and is set to be nominated for Paris.

There were plaudits in Athens for McMahon's independent Green Rebel campaign, too. The recently graduated UCD Engineering student rose to the challenge this week and regained Sport Ireland funding status for any future campaign for LA2028.

A race start on the final day of racing at the ILCA 7 European Championships in Athens Photo: Matias CapizzanoA race start on the final day of racing at the ILCA 7 European Championships in Athens Photo: Matias Capizzano

"It was very tricky, very up and down for the three races of mostly six knots, maximum eleven," commented  Lynch's Laser Coach Vasilij Zbogar. "We were hoping for a little more wind, preferably over 10 knots, where Finn definitely has an edge. But we wanted a medal here, we got a medal here, so we're happy."

Finnish sailor Valtteri Uusitalo made an impressive debut as a Senior European medalist, clinching the Gold prize by finishing atop the fleet after eight races with a total of 42 points.

"Very difficult day for me. I mean, super tricky conditions but I guess I managed to do quite well. I am very pleased with myself," Uusitalo said.

In terms of the Olympic spots at stake, Omer Vered Vilenchik and Zan Luka Zelko emerged as the winners, securing the ILCA 7 tickets for Israel and Slovenia in Paris 2024.

Top 10 ILCA 7 Senior Europeans:

Valtteri Uusitalo FIN 42 pt
Jonatan Vadnai HUN 46 pt
Finn Lynch IRL 46 pt
Finley Dickinson GBR 49 pt
Benjamin Vadnai HUN 53 pt
Dimitri Peroni ITA 59 pt
Eduardo Marques POR 61 pt
Omer Vered Vilenchik ISR 65 pt
Tonci Stipanovic CRO 73 pt
Alexandre Boite FRA 74 pt

Race Results

You may need to scroll vertically and horizontally within the box to view the full results

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Irish Olympic Sailing Team

Ireland has a proud representation in sailing at the Olympics dating back to 1948. Today there is a modern governing structure surrounding the selection of sailors the Olympic Regatta

Irish Olympic Sailing FAQs

Ireland’s representation in sailing at the Olympics dates back to 1948, when a team consisting of Jimmy Mooney (Firefly), Alf Delany and Hugh Allen (Swallow) competed in that year’s Summer Games in London (sailing off Torquay). Except for the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Ireland has sent at least one sailor to every Summer Games since then.

  • 1948 – London (Torquay) — Firefly: Jimmy Mooney; Swallow: Alf Delany, Hugh Allen
  • 1952 – Helsinki — Finn: Alf Delany * 1956 – Melbourne — Finn: J Somers Payne
  • 1960 – Rome — Flying Dutchman: Johnny Hooper, Peter Gray; Dragon: Jimmy Mooney, David Ryder, Robin Benson; Finn: J Somers Payne
  • 1964 – Tokyo — Dragon: Eddie Kelliher, Harry Maguire, Rob Dalton; Finn: Johnny Hooper 
  • 1972 – Munich (Kiel) — Tempest: David Wilkins, Sean Whitaker; Dragon: Robin Hennessy, Harry Byrne, Owen Delany; Finn: Kevin McLaverty; Flying Dutchman: Harold Cudmore, Richard O’Shea
  • 1976 – Montreal (Kingston) — 470: Robert Dix, Peter Dix; Flying Dutchman: Barry O’Neill, Jamie Wilkinson; Tempest: David Wilkins, Derek Jago
  • 1980 – Moscow (Tallinn) — Flying Dutchman: David Wilkins, Jamie Wilkinson (Silver medalists) * 1984 – Los Angeles — Finn: Bill O’Hara
  • 1988 – Seoul (Pusan) — Finn: Bill O’Hara; Flying Dutchman: David Wilkins, Peter Kennedy; 470 (Women): Cathy MacAleavy, Aisling Byrne
  • 1992 – Barcelona — Europe: Denise Lyttle; Flying Dutchman: David Wilkins, Peter Kennedy; Star: Mark Mansfield, Tom McWilliam
  • 1996 – Atlanta (Savannah) — Laser: Mark Lyttle; Europe: Aisling Bowman (Byrne); Finn: John Driscoll; Star: Mark Mansfield, David Burrows; 470 (Women): Denise Lyttle, Louise Cole; Soling: Marshall King, Dan O’Grady, Garrett Connolly
  • 2000 – Sydney — Europe: Maria Coleman; Finn: David Burrows; Star: Mark Mansfield, David O'Brien
  • 2004 – Athens — Europe: Maria Coleman; Finn: David Burrows; Star: Mark Mansfield, Killian Collins; 49er: Tom Fitzpatrick, Fraser Brown; 470: Gerald Owens, Ross Killian; Laser: Rory Fitzpatrick
  • 2008 – Beijing (Qingdao) — Star: Peter O’Leary, Stephen Milne; Finn: Tim Goodbody; Laser Radial: Ciara Peelo; 470: Gerald Owens, Phil Lawton
  • 2012 – London (Weymouth) — Star: Peter O’Leary, David Burrows; 49er: Ryan Seaton, Matt McGovern; Laser Radial: Annalise Murphy; Laser: James Espey; 470: Gerald Owens, Scott Flanigan
  • 2016 – Rio — Laser Radial (Women): Annalise Murphy (Silver medalist); 49er: Ryan Seaton, Matt McGovern; 49erFX: Andrea Brewster, Saskia Tidey; Laser: Finn Lynch; Paralympic Sonar: John Twomey, Ian Costello & Austin O’Carroll

Ireland has won two Olympics medals in sailing events, both silver: David Wilkins, Jamie Wilkinson in the Flying Dutchman at Moscow 1980, and Annalise Murphy in the Laser Radial at Rio 2016.

The current team, as of December 2020, consists of Laser sailors Finn Lynch, Liam Glynn and Ewan McMahon, 49er pairs Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle, and Sean Waddilove and Robert Dickson, as well as Laser Radial sailors Annalise Murphy and Aoife Hopkins.

Irish Sailing is the National Governing Body for sailing in Ireland.

Irish Sailing’s Performance division is responsible for selecting and nurturing Olympic contenders as part of its Performance Pathway.

The Performance Pathway is Irish Sailing’s Olympic talent pipeline. The Performance Pathway counts over 70 sailors from 11 years up in its programme.The Performance Pathway is made up of Junior, Youth, Academy, Development and Olympic squads. It provides young, talented and ambitious Irish sailors with opportunities to move up through the ranks from an early age. With up to 100 young athletes training with the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway, every aspect of their performance is planned and closely monitored while strong relationships are simultaneously built with the sailors and their families

Rory Fitzpatrick is the head coach of Irish Sailing Performance. He is a graduate of University College Dublin and was an Athens 2004 Olympian in the Laser class.

The Performance Director of Irish Sailing is James O’Callaghan. Since 2006 James has been responsible for the development and delivery of athlete-focused, coach-led, performance-measured programmes across the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway. A Business & Economics graduate of Trinity College Dublin, he is a Level 3 Qualified Coach and Level 2 Coach Tutor. He has coached at five Olympic Games and numerous European and World Championship events across multiple Olympic classes. He is also a member of the Irish Sailing Foundation board.

Annalise Murphy is by far and away the biggest Irish sailing star. Her fourth in London 2012 when she came so agonisingly close to a bronze medal followed by her superb silver medal performance four years later at Rio won the hearts of Ireland. Murphy is aiming to go one better in Tokyo 2021. 

Under head coach Rory Fitzpatrick, the coaching staff consists of Laser Radial Academy coach Sean Evans, Olympic Laser coach Vasilij Zbogar and 49er team coach Matt McGovern.

The Irish Government provides funding to Irish Sailing. These funds are exclusively for the benefit of the Performance Pathway. However, this falls short of the amount required to fund the Performance Pathway in order to allow Ireland compete at the highest level. As a result the Performance Pathway programme currently receives around €850,000 per annum from Sport Ireland and €150,000 from sponsorship. A further €2 million per annum is needed to have a major impact at the highest level. The Irish Sailing Foundation was established to bridge the financial gap through securing philanthropic donations, corporate giving and sponsorship.

The vision of the Irish Sailing Foundation is to generate the required financial resources for Ireland to scale-up and execute its world-class sailing programme. Irish Sailing works tirelessly to promote sailing in Ireland and abroad and has been successful in securing funding of 1 million euro from Sport Ireland. However, to compete on a par with other nations, a further €2 million is required annually to realise the ambitions of our talented sailors. For this reason, the Irish Sailing Foundation was formed to seek philanthropic donations. Led by a Board of Directors and Head of Development Kathryn Grace, the foundation lads a campaign to bridge the financial gap to provide the Performance Pathway with the funds necessary to increase coaching hours, upgrade equipment and provide world class sport science support to a greater number of high-potential Irish sailors.

The Senior and Academy teams of the Performance Pathway are supported with the provision of a coach, vehicle, coach boat and boats. Even with this level of subsidy there is still a large financial burden on individual families due to travel costs, entry fees and accommodation. There are often compromises made on the amount of days a coach can be hired for and on many occasions it is necessary to opt out of major competitions outside Europe due to cost. Money raised by the Irish Sailing Foundation will go towards increased quality coaching time, world-class equipment, and subsiding entry fees and travel-related costs. It also goes towards broadening the base of talented sailors that can consider campaigning by removing financial hurdles, and the Performance HQ in Dublin to increase efficiency and reduce logistical issues.

The ethos of the Performance Pathway is progression. At each stage international performance benchmarks are utilised to ensure the sailors are meeting expectations set. The size of a sailor will generally dictate which boat they sail. The classes selected on the pathway have been identified as the best feeder classes for progression. Currently the Irish Sailing Performance Pathway consists of the following groups: * Pathway (U15) Optimist and Topper * Youth Academy (U19) Laser 4.7, Laser Radial and 420 * Development Academy (U23) Laser, Laser Radial, 49er, 49erFX * Team IRL (direct-funded athletes) Laser, Laser Radial, 49er, 49erFX

The Irish Sailing performance director produces a detailed annual budget for the programme which is presented to Sport Ireland, Irish Sailing and the Foundation for detailed discussion and analysis of the programme, where each item of expenditure is reviewed and approved. Each year, the performance director drafts a Performance Plan and Budget designed to meet the objectives of Irish Performance Sailing based on an annual review of the Pathway Programmes from Junior to Olympic level. The plan is then presented to the Olympic Steering Group (OSG) where it is independently assessed and the budget is agreed. The OSG closely monitors the delivery of the plan ensuring it meets the agreed strategy, is within budget and in line with operational plans. The performance director communicates on an ongoing basis with the OSG throughout the year, reporting formally on a quarterly basis.

Due to the specialised nature of Performance Sport, Irish Sailing established an expert sub-committee which is referred to as the Olympic Steering Group (OSG). The OSG is chaired by Patrick Coveney and its objective is centred around winning Olympic medals so it oversees the delivery of the Irish Sailing’s Performance plan.

At Junior level (U15) sailors learn not only to be a sailor but also an athlete. They develop the discipline required to keep a training log while undertaking fitness programmes, attending coaching sessions and travelling to competitions. During the winter Regional Squads take place and then in spring the National Squads are selected for Summer Competitions. As sailors move into Youth level (U19) there is an exhaustive selection matrix used when considering a sailor for entry into the Performance Academy. Completion of club training programmes, attendance at the performance seminars, physical suitability and also progress at Junior and Youth competitions are assessed and reviewed. Once invited in to the Performance Academy, sailors are given a six-month trial before a final decision is made on their selection. Sailors in the Academy are very closely monitored and engage in a very well planned out sailing, training and competition programme. There are also defined international benchmarks which these sailors are required to meet by a certain age. Biannual reviews are conducted transparently with the sailors so they know exactly where they are performing well and they are made aware of where they may need to improve before the next review.

©Afloat 2020

Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing Competition

Where is the Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing Competition being held? Sailing at Paris 2024 will take place in Marseille on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea between 28 July and 8 August, and will feature Kiteboarding for the first time, following a successful Olympic debut in 2018 at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires. The sailing event is over 700 km from the main Olympic Games venue in Paris.

What are the events? The Olympic Sailing Competition at Paris 2024 will feature ten Events:

  • Women’s: Windsurfing, Kite, Dinghy, Skiff
  • Men’s: Windsurfing, Kite, Dinghy, Skiff
  • Mixed: Dinghy, Multihull

How do you qualify for Paris 2024?  The first opportunity for athletes to qualify for Paris 2024 will be the Sailing World Championships, The Hague 2023, followed by the Men’s and Women’s Dinghy 2024 World Championships and then a qualifier on each of World Sailing’s six continents in each of the ten Events. The final opportunity is a last chance regatta to be held in 2024, just a few months before the Games begin.

50-50 split between male and female athletes: The Paris 2024 Games is set to be the first to achieve a 50-50 split between male and female athletes, building on the progress made at both Rio 2016 (47.5%) and Tokyo 2020 (48.8%). It will also be the first Olympic Games where two of the three Chief roles in the sailing event will be held by female officials,