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British Laser Sailing on a High After Third Euro Title in As Many Years

11th October 2021
Michael Beckett, 26, from Solva in Pembrokeshire has become the third Brit in as many years to claim the ILCA 7/Laser class European title
Michael Beckett, 26, (pictured centre) from Solva in Pembrokeshire has become the third Brit in as many years to claim the ILCA 7/Laser class European title

Michael Beckett has become the third Brit in as many years to claim the ILCA 7/Laser class European title.

Beckett, who has twice come runner up at the Euros, in 2018 and 2020, led the week-long regatta in Varna, Bulgaria, from the opening day and sealed victory with a race to spare.

It was turned out to be a top venue for Irish campaigner Finn Lynch of Dun Laoghaire who earned a top ten result, his best so far, as Afloat reported here. And for Howth youth sensation Eve McMahon who took a race win and finished 15th overall.

As well as being Beckett’s first European Championships title, it’s the third successive win for Brits in the ILCA 7 class (formerly the Laser), and the fourth in five years.

Rio 2016 Olympian Nick Thompson was the European champion in 2017 and 2019, while his Tokyo 2020 successor Elliot Hanson was top in 2020.

Beckett said he’d been spurred on after relinquishing the lead at a regatta earlier in the year in the final race.

“The last event I did I lost the event lead in the final race after leading all week, and I found it a very tough experience,” said Beckett, 26, from Solva in Pembrokeshire.

“Over the summer I’ve really pulled apart a lot about my technique, fitness and general approach to try and make myself better and more consistent in regattas like this.

“I couldn’t be happier with how this event has gone. It feels like a huge amount of vindication for those changes I decided to make.

“It’s always difficult to back myself to make changes without knowing exactly if it’s a good idea or not, but the way I sailed this week I never panicked despite some really loose conditions, I stayed calm and enjoyed it.”

Beckett paid tribute to long-serving coach Chris Gowers for developing a powerful squad that consistently performs at the highest level, as well as his British Sailing Team colleagues.

“Chris is a very discreet guy but he’s been fantastic this week helping me in the right ways – and now he can say he has coached four of his sailors to four European titles in just five years, which I think is an incredible thing,” he added.

“We have a fantastic squad culture, winning the Europeans this week is a great reflection of the work that everyone in the squad has done. Without the guys pushing me all the time I would never be able to develop the skills to pull off something like this so I’m also really grateful to them.”

2020 bronze medallist Lorenzo Chiavarini was seventh, while teammates Daniel Whiteley and Sam Whaley came home 13th and 22nd respectively, both posting their best ever results at a European championships.

In the ILCA 6 fleet, Daisy Collingridge scored a personal best finishing seventh and top Brit. Hannah Snellgrove was 16th and Matilda Nicholls 20th.

“I feel like I’ve been on the brink of putting in a good performance for a while and I’m so happy to see it all come together,” said Collingridge, 22, from Waldringfield, Suffolk. “It was a really tough week conditions-wise but I managed to stay relatively consistent throughout. I’m massively looking forward to seeing what the future holds.”

The focus now turns to the world championships, taking place in Barcelona in early November for the men’s fleet and in Oman in early December for the women’s fleet.

Full results from the regatta can be found here.

Afloat.ie Team

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At A Glance – Laser Dinghy Specifications

Designer Bruce Kirby & Ian Bruce

Year 1969

Crew 1
Draft 0.787 m (2 ft 7.0 in)
Hull weight 58.97 kg (130.0 lb)
LOA 4.2 m (13 ft 9 in)
LWL 3.81 m (12 ft 6 in)
Beam 1.39 m (4 ft 7 in)
Mainsail area 7.06 m2 (76.0 sq ft)

Racing D-PN 91.1 RYA PN 1088 PHRF 217

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