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Ireland Finish Sixth in Nations Cup at 29er Europeans in Denmark

10th July 2022
Johnny Flynn and James Dwyer-Mathews racing upwind
Johnny Flynn and James Dwyer-Mathews racing upwind during their strong showing at Rungsted Credit: Sailing Pics

The waters of Rungsted, Denmark were the theatre of last week’s 29er European Championships where four Irish partnerships competed in the 165-boat fleet, writes Thomas Chaix.

A full series of 17 races was delivered by the Royal Danish Yacht Club from Thursday 30 June to Tuesday 5 July in varied and certainly challenging conditions, with a few long days afloat chasing after the wind.

The nine-race qualifying series over the first three days saw mostly light and shifty westerlies. Day one started with Johnny Flynn and James Dwyer-Mathews taking the first race win of the event, the beginning of three days of ups and downs for the boys that unfortunately concluded with a BFD disqualification on the final race, costing them a Gold fleet qualification.

The Van Steenberge siblings, Clementine and Nathan, also suffered from an inconsistent series including a BFD. But their excellent speed downwind also earned them three runner-up finishes which were enough to make the Gold fleet cut.

Nathan and Clementine Van Steenberge had a golden few days in Denmark despite some devastating setbacksNathan and Clementine Van Steenberge had a golden few days in Denmark despite some devastating setbacks

Elsewhere, the Riordan sisters Emily and Jessica had a more consistent series but just short of the Gold fleet. And the youngest of the Irish teams, Lucia Cullen and Alanna Twomey, settled with Bronze despite the boost of a fourth-place finish in their first race. 

The finals started with a champagne sailing day. The wind had gone south and the bay delivered a great 15 knots of relatively steady breeze with big waves.

In Gold, disaster struck with the Van Steenberges suffering gear failure on race one after a solid start. The repair was challenging but achieved afloat and they could resume racing in races two and three, finishing the day with an excellent sixth.

In Silver, Johnny and James climbed into the top five with a solid 1-12-8 scoreline. The Riordans found the going harder and finished their day 33-UFD-22, dropping ranks overall. It was also a challenging day for Lucia and Alanna in Bronze, dropping outside top 10 (40-25-24).

Clementine and Nathan (3169) on the Gold fleet start lineClementine and Nathan (3169) on the Gold fleet start line

The breeze then went to the west again, delivering a return of crazy shifts, random gusts favouring the specialists of the game of snakes and ladders.

It was a challenging day in Gold with frustrating outcomes. Despite this, Clementine and Nathan got back into top 25 for the first time of the week with a scoreline of 34-3-32 and discarding the previous day DNC. Johnny and James came back strong after a disastrous first race (discarded) to climb to third in Silver (36-10-2 on the day). The Riordans sailed a consistent day with a 19-19-14 to climb ranks again. And Lucia and Alanna had a stronger day, climbing back in touch of the top 10 (14-3-4).

Two races were sailed on the final day. The Van Steenberges sailed very well, making gains all around the course on the first race, taking ninth and getting themselves within a hair of a podium finish in the mixed category. They kept the best for the final race, leading the fleet from the first windward to the finish. The race win allowed them to jump in 18th overall (15th Europeans) and squeeze into second in the Mixed category.

The Silver fleet podium that was narrowly missed by Johnny and JamesThe Silver fleet podium that was narrowly missed by Johnny and James

In Silver, Johnny and James had a lot of points to bridge to win silver but certainly gave it their all, winning the first race and then delivering what was probably the best catch-up of the event converting a deep first windward position into a fifth. A mere two points remained and they settled for second overall (42nd at the event).

Emily and Jessica Riordan had a solid seventh in the first race and completed their event 21st in Silver (61st overall). With a 13th and 4th, Lucia and Alanna also climbed back into the Bronze top 10 (7th; 89th overall).

Counting our best all boys, best all girls and best any gender team, Ireland finished once more near the front of the nations cup in sixth position overall.

The next outing for the Irish 29ers will be the Worlds in El Balís, Barcelona in August where eight partnerships will compete in a fleet of 240 boats and growing.

Published in 29er
Thomas Chaix

About The Author

Thomas Chaix

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Thomas Chaix is Head Coach at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin. He currently sails the 49er dinghy (for fun) but raced the Laser for 25 years and has been a member of French and Irish teams


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About the 29er Skiff Dinghy

The 29er is a one-design double-handed, single trapeze skiff for youth sailors.

There is an active class in Ireland, just one of the 38-countries from across all continents now racing the high-performance skiff.

The 29er is one of the latest dinghy classes to arrive in Ireland and has a 50/50 split between boys and girls.

The class like to describe the boat as "The most popular skiff for sailors who want to go fast!".

Derived from the Olympic class 49er class and designed by Julian Bethwaite the 29er was first produced in 1998.

Two sailors sail the 29er, one on trapeze.

The class is targeted at youth sailors aiming at sailing the larger 49er which is an Olympic class.

The 6.25-metre high rig features a fractional asymmetrical spinnaker; a self-tacking jib decreases the workload of the crew, making manoeuvres more efficient and freeing the crew to take the mainsheet upwind and on two-sail reaches.

The 15.00 m2 spinnaker rigging set-up challenges crews to be fit and coordinated, and manoeuvres in the boat require athleticism due to its lack of inherent stability and the high speed with which the fully battened mainsail and jib power up.

The 74kg weight hull is constructed of fibreglass-reinforced polyester in a foam sandwich layout.

The fully battened mainsail and jib are made from a transparent Mylar laminate with orange or red Dacron trimming, while the spinnaker is manufactured from ripstop Nylon.

The mast is in three parts - an aluminium bottom and middle section, with a polyester-fibreglass composite tip to increase mast bend and decrease both overall weights, and the capsizing moment a heavy mast tip can generate. Foils are aluminium or fibreglass.

29er skiff technical specs

  • Hull weight 74kg (163lb)
  • LOA 4.45m (14.4ft)
  • Beam 1.77m (5ft 7in)
  • Crew 2 (single trapeze) 
  • Spinnaker area 15.00 m2 (181.2sq.ft)
  • Upwind sail area 12.5 m2 (142.0 sq.ft)
  • Mast length 6.25m (20.5ft)

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