#lasersailing – In what is building to a thrilling 2016 Olympic trial, youngster Finn Lynch, the latest addition to the Irish Olympic Laser squad, threw down the gauntlet to London 2012's James Espey when he won the Laser Leinster honours at Waterford Harbour Sailing Club at the weekend. Lynch, who earned his place for Olympic Qualification in Croatia in June, produced four race wins to beat Royal Ulster's Espey by 1.6 points in the 19–boat fleet. It's the 17–year–old's third provincial title on the trot, winning the Munsters at Baltimore in May and the Ulsters at East Antrim in June. Ballyholme's Colin Leonard was third.
Lynch and Espey meet again in September in Santander at ISAF World Champs which doubles as a nation qualifier for the Rio Olympics.
Full rig, radial and 4.7 overall results from Waterford are downloadable below.
Waterford Harbour Sailing Club, Dunmore East, hosted an excellent Laser Leinsters last weekend.
Saturday dawned with grey clouds, a chilly breeze and the confident statement by OOD Con Murphy, that "if the rain storm over the middle of the country comes this way, it won't be 12 knots from the NW." We had a cracking broad reach in 15 - 20 knots out to the start, where after a few shifts of course as a rain cloud came through and a few attempts for the Full rigs to get off the line cleanly, we got away. Whilst Ronan Cull and I traded a few crosses, James Espey came out of the left to commence what for a generation of Irish laser sailors has been normal service watching him sail off into the distance. I got out to the left and managed to come into the mark second, with a tight bunch of Finn Lynch, Conor Byrne (before he got tired), Stephen Penney and Ronan hot on my heals. Finn rapidly pulled upto me, and for what must have been a matter of minutes he was behind me. However the inevitable happened at the bottom of the second run when just as if I wasn't there Finn was past me and away. Top 3 finished that way, with Conor, Stephen making up the top 5.
Race 2 saw similar breezy conditions but a slight right shift at the top meant I led from James, Finn and the pack. Despite James Espey Sailing, becoming James Espey Coaching, half way up the second beat James was away. Superior technique in the chop was awesome to see. In fact, it was pretty awesome watching Finn do the same! However Finn kindly took part in the Leinster sailing/swimming biathlon allowing me to slip home in second, finn in third. Ronan came in 4th and Dougie Power new into the fullrig showed good speed to fight off Darragh O Sullivan! Conor Byrne was last seen stretching his hamstrings down the run...mars bars are not electrolye drinks.
Race 3 the breeze was up, James had some unintentional equipment failure and again I led from Finn for as long as I could muster but age, not enough food, and a lack of talent saw Finn demolish me up the last beat. I can't help but feel this will become as common a feeling as watching James demolish us all! Darragh used good speed downwind to close up the 3rd. I suspect that this was the only time he was firing on all cylinders and with a 2 hour recovery cycle after sailing Darragh looks sure to join Finn and James in being recognisable to the rest of us by the back of their heads! Ronan came in fourth, with Ronan Kenneally finishing his day with a 5th. Full marks to him for taking one day of his weekend to sail before returning to the family man duties!
So a good first day came to and end with everyone wondering how James had got redress, how Finn was so bloody quick downwind, just how heavy do you need to be to drop sheet and go bow down, and will Conor be able to walk tomorrow!
Sunday was sunny, and the breeze had swung round to provide big waves and the scene was set for James and Finn to battle it out, and for the rest of us to enjoy some top notch sailing conditions. Race 1 saw the main protagonists and their training partners past and present have a speed contest to the left aka wrong corner of the race track. Young Ryan Glynn defied his size to lead at the first mark, with myself James and Finn hot on his heels. He flew downwind and held on valiantly before charging back to almost take the lead again but instead rolling me like I was sinking on the last reach to come 3rd behind Finn and James. Probably one of the best races I've had in ages - great fun! Ronan Cull started his roll as must unlucky sailer of the weekend by joining the Biathlon club, and as much to his surprise as everyone else's conor not only sailed - he sailed fast into 6th.
Race 5 and, it was my turn to start badly (turns out James and Finn are high and fast) before competing in the windward capsize biathlon and retiring. Ronan showed some of his top speed to come 3rd, whilst Finn was lightening fast downwind and won from James. Dan O'Beirne had a good race in 4th, from Conor and Darragh.
At this stage it was winner takes all for Finn and James, barring a disaster I would finish third, and Stephen Penney all but had his hands on the Masters trophy! Still race 6 was a cracker and James and Finn put it all on show, close crosses at the start, Ronan closing the door on finn. Shouting matches between Finn and James at the windward mark. Finn having an angle down the waves that was unmatchable...fast. Poor Ronan had his mast snap and Dougie Power flew the home flag hard to get another 5th. Finn won, from James, myself, and Darragh (the final finishing order overall.)
Great to see so many old faces back for a play, and a privilege to see how the Pros do it. The main protagonists traded days as the quickest over the water and as they head to Schull/ U21 worlds/ Santander we all wish them well! The rest of us back at work can only know that the nationals at Ballyholme Yacht Club in late August will be as fun and good racing. See you all there!