Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Northern Ireland Finn Sailor is 32 from 60 at Gold Cup in Australia

22nd December 2019
Oisin McClelland from Donaghdee competing in Melbourne Oisin McClelland from Donaghdee competing in Melbourne Photo: Robert Deaves

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

Afloat.ie Team

About The Author

Afloat.ie Team

Email The Author

Afloat.ie is Ireland's dedicated marine journalism team.

Have you got a story for our reporters? Email us here.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading Afloat.ie than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open.

Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

Olympic Sailing features a variety of craft, from dinghies and keelboats to windsurfing boards. The programme at Tokyo 2020 will include two events for both men and women, three for men only, two for women only and one for mixed crews:

Event Programme

RS:X - Windsurfer (Men/Women)
Laser - One Person Dinghy (Men)
Laser Radial - One Person Dinghy (Women)
Finn - One Person Dinghy (Heavyweight) (Men)
470 - Two Person Dinghy (Men/Women)
49er - Skiff (Men)
49er FX - Skiff (Women)
Nacra 17 Foiling - Mixed Multihull

The mixed Nacra 17 Foiling - Mixed Multihull and women-only 49er FX - Skiff, events were first staged at Rio 2016.

Each event consists of a series of races. Points in each race are awarded according to position: the winner gets one point, the second-placed finisher scores two, and so on. The final race is called the medal race, for which points are doubled. Following the medal race, the individual or crew with the fewest total points is declared the winner.

During races, boats navigate a course shaped like an enormous triangle, heading for the finish line after they contend with the wind from all three directions. They must pass marker buoys a certain number of times and in a predetermined order.

Sailing competitions at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are scheduled to take place from 27 July to 6 August at the Enoshima Yacht Harbour. 

Venues: Enoshima Yacht Harbor

No. of events: 10

Dates: 27 July – 6 August

Who is Your Sailor Sailor of the Year 2019?
Total Votes:
First Vote:
Last Vote:

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Dates

Sailing competitions at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are scheduled to take place from 27 July to 6 August at the Enoshima Yacht Harbour. 

Venue: Enoshima Yacht Harbour

No. of events: 10

Dates: 27 July – 6 August

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton
ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Events 2020

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
viking sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
sellingboat sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating