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Ireland Takes Double Gold at 29er European Championships in Sweden

20th August 2023
Ireland's Ben O’Shaughnessy and Ethan Spain celebrate their win in the European Championships in the 29er class in Stockholm
Ireland's Ben O’Shaughnessy and Ethan Spain celebrate their win in the European Championships in the 29er class in Stockholm

In an outstanding month for Irish youth sailing achievement, two Cork-Dublin pairings have won more gold medals in the International 29er class to follow the World title win of a fortnight ago. 

Ireland won two gold medals at the 29er European Championships held in Stockholm this afternoon.

Ben O’Shaughnessy, 17, from Royal Cork and Ethan Spain, 18, from the National Yacht Club, won the European 29er Championships title, while Lucia Cullen, 17, from Dublin and Alana Twomey, 17, from Cork, won the European Female 29er Championships title.

Ireland's Lucia Cullen and Alana Twomey celebrate their win in the Female European Championship win in the 29er class in StockholmIreland's Lucia Cullen and Alana Twomey celebrate their win in the Female European Championship win in the 29er class in Stockholm

The five-day sailing event, held at The Royal Swedish Yacht Club, saw 173 teams from 24 countries compete in challenging conditions with large wind shifts and big pressure differences.

The two Irish teams were in the silver position overnight going into the final day of racing, but they came out strong in the first race of the day, with the girl's team of Lucia and Alana getting a fourth just ahead of the boy's team of Ben and Ethan getting a fifth. They fought hard in the following three races to bring home the double gold for Ireland.

The achievement is even more impressive given that Ireland had only five teams competing at the event, making it one of the countries with the smallest number of teams. It was an extraordinary result for the Irish sailors who demonstrated dynamic decision-making, boat handling, and teamwork to excel in the fast tempo of 29er racing.

As regular Afloat readers know, today's Euro titles follow the World title won by the Van Steenberg siblings in Weymouth earlier this month.

O'Shaughnessy and Spain claimed the Overall and Men's European Championship title by a margin of 11 points after four races on the final day. The championship titles came down to the wire, with just one point separating the top three boats going into the last start, but Ben and Ethan held their nerve to secure the win.

The new Overall and Men's European 29er Championship winners Ben O'Shaughnessy and Ethan SpainThe new Overall and Men's European 29er Championship winners Ben O'Shaughnessy and Ethan Spain Photo: Sailing Pics

In the Women's category, Ireland's Cullen and Twomey took home the Women's title and tenth position overall, while Assi Lindell and Ines Karlemo of Finland secured the Silver medal in the Women's category, and Alja Petric and Caterina Sedmak of Slovenia took the Bronze.

A thumbs up from 29er Female Euro champions Lucia Cullen (right) and Alana Twomey Photo: Sailing PicsA thumbs up from 29er Female Euro champions Lucia Cullen (right) and Alana Twomey Photo: Sailing Pics

Local sailors Hedvig and Hugo Liljegren of Sweden claimed the Silver medal in the Open category, with Caroline Pennetier and Benjamin Benhayoun of France in Bronze medal position.

The Nations Cup for the top three teams out of two categories was won by France, with three boats in the top ten.

The National Yacht Club's Cecile van Steenberge from Dublin Bay, the new Vice President of the International 29er Class, thanked the sailors for their hard work and dedication throughout the Championships and acknowledged the significant role played by volunteers in supporting youth sailing. The International 29er Class also thanked The Royal Swedish Yacht Club for their exceptional efforts in making the European Championships a unique and memorable event from start to finish.

Race Results

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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.

About the ILCA/Laser Dinghy

The ILCA, formerly known as the Laser, is the most produced boat in the world, with 220,000 units built since 1971.

It's easy to see why the single-handed dinghy has won the title of the most widely distributed boat of all time.

The Laser is a one-design dinghy, the hulls being identical but three rigs that can be used according to the size and weight of the sailor.

The class is international, with sailors from 120 countries. The boat has also been an Olympic class since 1996, being both the men's and women's singlehanded dinghy.

Three rigs are recognised by the International Laser Class Association (ILCA):

  • ILCA 4: sail of 4.70m2
  • ILCA 6: sail of 5.76 m2
  • ILCA 7: sail of 7.06 m2

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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