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Irish Waszp sailors competed at an intense week at the Foil International Academy Trophy in Italy. The event gathered over 40 athletes from 10 nations in the waters of Cagliari, at Su Siccu.

In the Waszp discipline, Swedish Hanno Seifert claimed victory, topping the overall standings, followed by Spaniard Pablo Astiazaran and Peter Cope from the Isle of Man.

Dun Laoghaire sailors Rian Geraghty McDonnell of the Royal St George and Georgia Goodbody of the Royal Irish Yacht Club finished sixth and seventh respectively in the bronze fleet. (See results below).

"I believe the Cagliari race was excellent," commented Hanno Seifert, Waszp champion. "It was a competition with plenty of wind, highly enjoyable, and the skill level was exceptionally high. Winning brings me great joy." Local athletes Freddy Pilloni and 14-year-old Pierluigi Caproni also took centre stage in a demonstration with iQFOiL.

Prestigious awards were presented for the "Nation Trophy," given to two representatives from each nation with the highest score among pairs. The victors were Sweden with Felicia Fernstrom and Hanno Seifert, Spain with Isi Collado Front and Pablo Astiazaran, and Italians Rebecca Geiger and Federico Bergamasco.

The awards ceremony unfolded at the headquarters of the Italian Sailing Federation's III Zone at Molo Ichnusa in Cagliari. The final day of the Foil International Academy Trophy will be etched in participants' memories for the visit to Luna Rossa's base, providing them with a glimpse into the realm of the America's Cup.

The Foil International Academy Trophy is a component of the Next Generation Foil Academy project powered by Luna Rossa. The central hub is at the Federal Olympic Preparation Center of the Italian Sailing Federation at Molo Ichnusa in Cagliari, where the flags of the 10 involved nations fluttered for a week. Athletes who journeyed to Sardinia hailed from Spain, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, France, various regions of Italy, Great Britain, and a delegation from the Isle of Man.

Foil International Academy Trophy results

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With four straight wins on Sunday, foiling sailor Charlie Cullen successfully defended his Irish Waszp dinghy title on Dublin Bay.

After a cut-short programme on Saturday of two races due to strong winds, it was Royal Irish rival Max Goodbody who held the overnight lead in the 15-boat fleet with two wins, but the champion showed the depth of his talents in gusty southwesterly winds off Dun Laoghaire Harbour on Sunday morning.

Racing began in the middle of the bay in shifty and patchy breeze with foiling only some of the time, and the race was shortened to one round. Royal St. George Race Officer Barry O'Neill then moved to the Salthill area with more breeze up to 20 knots. 

The course was approximately 1,300 m long legs where windward legs took around five minutes and downhills three meaning a two-round race gave leaders a 16/17-minute race.

Sunday's racing was in contrast to Saturday's 20-knot affair with Waszp sailors having to deal with non-foiling calm patches like the above at the start of race three Photo: AfloatSunday's first race was in contrast to Saturday's 20-knot affair with Waszp sailors having to deal with non-foiling calm patches like the above Photo: Afloat

Goodbody discarded a seventh in the first race on Sunday to finish second overall on eight points, two points behind Cullen. 

Royal Irish's Max Goodbody took two wins on Saturday to be the overnight leader of the Irish 2023 Moth Championships on Dublin Bay Photo: AfloatRoyal Irish's Max Goodbody took two wins on Saturday to be the overnight leader of the Irish 2023 Moth Championships on Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat

In a strong showing for Dublin Bay foiling interests, Cullen's clubmate Henry Start took third place on 17.

Royal St George's Henry Start finished thrid overall in the 2023 Irish Moth Championships at the Royal St. George Yacht Club Photo: AfloatRoyal St George's Henry Start finished thrid overall in the 2023 Irish Moth Championships at the Royal St. George Yacht Club Photo: Afloat

This year the fleet at the Royal St George Yacht Club event attracted a number of Northern Ireland sailors to the Bay, and Ballyholme Yacht Club's Robert Espey from Belfast Lough finished fourth on 20 points.

Although numbers were down on last year's 18 boats, the fleet continues to attract diverse age and weight groups, with sailors from 16 to 60 years old sailing with competitors ranging from 50 kg to 90 kg.

Royal St. George race officer Barry O'Neill ran a six-race Irish Moth Championships from his Rhea 850 Brouette Committee Boat on Dublin Bay Photo: AfloatRoyal St. George race officer Barry O'Neill ran a six-race Irish Moth Championships from his Rhea 850 Brouette Committee Boat on Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat

Meanwhile, a three-boat Moth championship was won by Ronan Wallace's Claoimh Solais from Wexford Harbour.

Ballyholme Yacht Club's Robert Espey from Belfast Lough finished fourth at the Irish Moth Championships on Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat Ballyholme Yacht Club's Robert Espey from Belfast Lough finished fourth at the Irish Moth Championships on Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat 

In seventh overall, RStGYC's Elysia O'Leary was top female at the Irish Moth Championships off Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: AfloatIn seventh overall, RStGYC's Elysia O'Leary was top female at the Irish Moth Championships off Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Afloat

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The Royal Irish's Max Goodbody leads the WASZP National Championships after two races sailed at Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

Four races are planned on Sunday to put the Championship schedule back on track at Dun Laoghaire after Storm Betty impacted the first day of racing on Saturday. 

Royal St George Yacht Club Race Officer Barry O'Neill flew a postponement until early afternoon and finally got racing around 3 pm, but the Moth class who are also racing for National Honours opted to stay ashore. 

With winds gusting to 20 knots, Goodbody counts two wins over Royal St George Yacht Club's Charlie Cullen. Lying third is Cullen's clubmate Henry Start. 

Racing continues on Sunday.

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A 19-boat entry will contest the Waszp and Moth Irish National Championships at Dun Laoghaire Harbour's Royal St. George Yacht Club this weekend (August 19th and 20th).

For the first time in the burgeoning class, the entry list includes a strong Northern Ireland entry as the foiling fleet builds at Ballyholme on Belfast Lough, as Afloat reported here.

At least 30 Waszps are in Ireland this season, with a number of boats competing in Europe.

As both boat types need approximately ten knots to fully foil, all eyes are on the weekend weather forecast that looks promising for the Dublin Bay race track with plenty of strong southwesterly winds for Saturday at least.

The championship will consist of a maximum of eight races but up to a maximum of six races may be scheduled on any one day.

The target time for each of the Waszp National Championship races is approx. 20 minutes. For the Moth National Championship, the target time is approx 25 minutes.

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Quiberon was the location for this year's WASZP European Championships, attracting 146 sailors from all over Europe.

Over the course of seven days, nine qualifying races and 8 flight races took place. Sailing was challenging at times, with the wind overall tending to be shifty, gusty and light.

The wind built through the day as it was thermal, so wind conditions varied a lot each day. As the day went on, the breeze got stronger, and the Irish boats did consistently better as the breeze increased.

The event opened with the long-distance race, which was the first time this was organised. It was 25 knots, and there was a big swell causing almost half the fleet to turn back and not complete the race.

Five Irish sailors competed; Max Goodbody RIYC was the first Irish boat placing 64 overall and in the gold fleet. He was followed by Henry Start RStGYC, President of the Irish WASZP Association, who came second Apprentice in Silver Fleet. Marcus O'Leary RSGYC, Georga Goodbody RIYC and Andrew Conan RStGYC completed the Irish team, all in the Silver fleet.

RStGYC is looking forward to hosting the WASZP Nationals again, for the third year running, on Aug 19 and 20th.

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Now with over 30 Waszps in Ireland, the type of sailors moving into the class from many different classes around Ireland, whether moving from double-handed sailing to solo sailing due to young families and other time commitments or sailors just looking for something fast and fun, the Waszp appears to be hitting a sweet spot among Irish sailors of all levels, from those who just want to get out and go fast to Olympians, national and world champions.

The attraction of foiling matched with the one design element and controlled costs, means entry into Foiling has never been easier, according to class promoters who say "It's great to be part of the leading edge of our sport, with the America's Cup and SailGP showing that foiling is the future of the sport". 

Four Waszp divisions

With the very active Open (21 – 45-year-olds) and Masters (45+) fleets growing in the last year, the class now has four divisions that all race together

  • Junior – Under 18
  • Youth – Under 21
  • Open – 21 – 45
  • Master – 45+

Three Irish Waszp centres

There are now three Waszp centres in the country, with nine boats in Ballyholme, 22 in Dun Laoghaire and three in Crosshaven in Cork Harbour.

Irish Waszp events 2023 

Super Series – 21st Jan, 18th Feb, 25th March – Dun Laoghaire
Easterns – TBC (late June – early July)
Nationals – 19th – 20th August – RstGYC Dun Laoghaire

Waszp Four Nations Cup – New 2023

This consists of a series of events in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, 1 discard from 4 events
Welsh Nationals (4 nations cup) – 27/28th May - Cardiff
UK Nationals (4 nations cup) – 29th June – 2nd July (Rutland, UK)
Irish Nationals (4 nations cup) – 19/20th August – RstGYC Dun Laoghaire
Scottish Nationals (4 nations cup) – 3rd/4th Sept – Loch Lomond

Waszp Europeans 2023 – Quiberon, France, Over 200 Waszps expected at this event.

Waszp Open Day – The Irish class will be running open days in all three of the centres; more information to follow on dates and times.

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It’s amazing what can be achieved if you put your mind to it. In September 2021 Rob Espey of Ballyholme Yacht Club bought a Waszp and at that time, his was the only one at the Club. Having a vision of starting a class, he bought another in May last year so he could use one as a demo.

The Waszp is a one-design foiling dinghy. Every boat is produced to the same tight specification, meaning it’s down to the sailor to squeeze the speed out of the boat.

Rob is a long-time sailor, having raced Lasers, 49ers and RS400s. Now he is enjoying the success resulting from his efforts to get a Waszp class going in Northern Ireland. And to date, his determined efforts have paid off in a flurry of purchases with nine on the books, eight at Ballyholme and one at Strangford Lough Yacht Club at Whiterock.

Irish Waszp Nationals racing at the Royal St George YC in 2021 Photo: Simon McIlwaineIrish Waszp Nationals racing at the Royal St George YC in 2021 Photo: Simon McIlwaine

Rob said, “ I realised that if someone took on the hassle of ordering and buying, that it would make the purchase more attractive, so that’s what I did. I bought them and sold them on to interested sailors”. Some have been sourced from as far away as Australia, New Zealand and Austria.

The sailors who have committed so far are a varied group. Jeremy Tomalin crewed with Michael Ferguson in the 2013 RS 400 Nationals at Royal North of Ireland YC on Belfast Lough and finished in the top three Irish boats. And Mikey Ferguson is another. He has moved from being an offshore crew in such prestigious events such as the 2019 Transat Jacques Vabre with Finnish airline pilot Ari Hussela and the Middle Sea Race in the MOD Mana to something a great deal smaller. Gareth Martel is the owner of Pippa VI, a First 40.7 in which he won the 60th Anniversary offshore Ailsa Craig race out of Bangor.

Matt McGovern is a 49er sailor with two Olympics in his CV - 2012 and 2016. Daniel Corbett is a top ILCA 6 helmsman who was a member of the RYANI team at last year’s Celtic Cup in Largs. Luke McIlwaine from Newcastle YC competed at the international level as RYANI Topper squad member, an ILCA6 Radial and then a 29er sailor. Currently, he races on the RS400 circuit and on cruiser racers.

Mike Kimber is one of the top sailors in Ballyholme’s Laser fleet. From Strangford Lough Yacht Club, Stuart Cranston will have a very different experience in the Waszp from that campaigning his Ker 32 Hijacker.
Past racing results for Bob, Matt and Jeremy include a 6th, 9th, and 15th in last year’s Irish Nationals at Royal St. George YC.

On the menu for this season the N I contingent plans to take part in the Irish Nationals at Royal St George on 19th and 20th of August; an attempt at the Guinness Book of Records for the fastest North Channel crossing from Bangor to Portpatrick, in aid of Childrens’ Cancer charities. Last year Rob did it in 1 hour and 30m but it hadn’t been verified. It will be some sight to see all nine Waszp sailors support this attempt. Interestingly the previous record of 1hr 52 min was set by the late Johnny Mullan, crewed by Ian Wilson in a Hurricane 5.9 in 1996 but as they hadn’t applied to Guinness, it wasn’t recognised. Rob will apply this year. He also plans some demo sails.

Johnny Mullan and Ian Wilson (third and fourth right) who did the North Channel crossing in 1996Johnny Mullan and Ian Wilson (third and fourth right) who did the North Channel crossing in 1996

It will be interesting to follow the next stage of the Youth Foiling Programme initiative at Royal St George led by Club member and foiling champion Charlie Cullen will be revealed. It is aimed at young Irish sailors interested in possibly becoming Ireland's first-ever Youth America’s Cup sailor in Barcelona 2024. It aims to provide a possible pathway for U25 athletes in Ireland into professional sailing with the goal of producing Ireland’s first-ever Youth America’s Cup sailor. Entries closed on January 16th. 

Rob is delighted with the response and the growth of the class in Northern Ireland: “Watching the America’s Cup, I knew I wanted to get involved in foiling. I had looked at buying a Moth, but they are very expensive to buy and maintain, and also the chances of getting a fleet in Northern Ireland would be slim. The Waszp, therefore, was perfect They cost a lot less, and all the parts are readily available from the UK dealer in Scotland. Also, they appealed to me being one design as you can be certain of getting good racing. With eight now in Ballyholme and a ninth in Strangford, it’s going to be a fun time!”

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The Waszp national championships were hosted again this year in the Royal St. George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin on August 6-7th.

There were 18 boats competing, including two boats from overseas, one from Hawaii and one from Wales!

Fresh from the world championships with 9th place, Charlie Cullen RSGYC was back to fight for the National title against Henry Start RSGYC and Max Goodbody RIYC, who were in Gold fleet at the recent world championships as Afloat reported here.

The racing got off to a good start, with Race officer Barry O'Neill getting three good races in on Saturday morning August 6th, before the breeze turned off. Barry commented that the standard of competitors was up significantly since last year with most boats completing all laps. Some notable new faces since last year included current RS400 national champion Robert Espey BYC and current RS200 national champion Frank O'Rourke RSGYC along with 2x 49er Olympian Matt McGovern of BYC.

18 Waszps competed including two boats from overseas, one from Hawaii and one from Wales18 Waszps competed including two boats from overseas, one from Hawaii and one from Wales

The fleet was certainly a star-studded line up with almost every sailor having competed internationally for some years.

After day 1 Charlie Cullen had a commanding performance with 3 bullets with the internationals Zac Blomeley (Funsport Rhosneigr Wales) in 2nd and Gavin Ball (Hawaii Kai Boat Club) in 3rd. The fight for first girl and first master was as tight as can be with both having two competitors on equal points.

The sailors then had dinner at Royal St. George Yacht club and got up early for 10am first gun to get four races in before the breeze vanished again.

When all the races were completed Charlie Cullen only dropped one race and finished in first on 6 points winning the Irish National Championship and the Nations Trophy for Ireland.

Georgia Goodbody managed to separate from Elysia O'Leary to win 1st girl and Frank O'Rourke managed to get some points between him and the defending Masters champion Tom Hogan to secure the victory. Second place went to Zac Blomeley and 3rd to Gavin Ball, definitely the farthest to travel to the Irish Nationals!

Max Goodbody finished as the 1st Junior and Robert Espey won the Apprentice category.

Henry Start, Chairperson to Irish Waszp Association and competing sailor commented "Everyone was happy to get good races over the weekend in fabulous conditions and I'd love to see even more boats next year!"

Gavin Ball from Hawaii Kai Boat Club, USA, said "Tight racing in exciting conditions made for fun and competitive racing".

The fleet has continued to grow with its diverse age and weight groups with sailors from 16 to 60 years old sailing with competitors ranging from 50 kg to 90 kg.

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2021 Slalom and U20 Waszp European Champion Charlie Cullen of the Royal St. George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour was joined by six other Irish sailors for the 2022 Waszp Games where over 170 competitors gathered at beautiful Vela Malcesine in Lake Garda Italy.

It is the biggest event in the history of the Waszp fleet to date with the best coming from all over the World to fight for the World title. Cullen (20) was considered one of the favourites after his recent silver medal at the Foiling Week in Lake Garda at the beginning of July.

Day 1 of the regatta was Slalom racing. Slalom is a tight quick downwind format racing with 20 boats heat flights. The top 10 from each flight move to the next round with the bottom 10 getting knocked out. Cullen being the current champion in this discipline set out to defend his title. The Royal St. George sailor qualified for the final and finished 10th overall in the Slalom.

But it was the Spaniards who dominated - 2 time European Champion Joan Costa was on top form getting 2 bullets in the first 2 races in the 3 race final. However, the slalom is a very unforgiving format where one mistake hits hard. In the final race Costa set for a guaranteed win, threw it all away after capsizing 10 metres from the finish line in the final race, handing the win to fellow Spaniard Jaime Framis.

Championship racing followed. Cullen had a flying start getting a bullet in race 3 putting him in 2nd position after the first days of racing. With the days to follow, Cullen would qualify for gold fleet in 6th position - Max Goodbody & Henry Start also qualified for gold fleet. With Marcus O’Leary and Georgia Goodbody qualifying in silver fleet.

Finals Racing was concluded with Sam Street of New Zealand taking the Gold and becoming the 2022 World Champion. GBR Sam Whaley took silver and Enzio Savoini of Italy took 3rd. Charlie Finished 9th overall being the first ever Irish sailor to finish in the top 10 at the World Championships.

There was a record number of girl representation at this event with 40 females taking to the start line compared to only 2 females at the previous Worlds held in Perth in 2019. Georgia Goodbody was Irelands girl representative at only 16 years of age racing in the main fleet with the full 8.2 meter rig. Georgia sailed a great regatta finishing 113th in the 170 boat fleet. Emirates Team New Zealand Engineer Elise Beavis of New Zealand finished 22nd overall and took the overall female title, with Nora Doksrod and Mathilde Roberstad of Norway filling the female podium.

The other Irish had great events with Max Goodbody finishing 55th, Henry Start finishing 58th & Marcus O’Leary finishing 105th. 

Royal Irish's Max Goodbody won the top speed prize for the weekend with a speed of 23.5 knotsRoyal Irish's Max Goodbody won the top speed prize for the weekend with a speed of 23.5 knots

The next event on the Waszp calendar is the Irish Waszp & Moth nationals that will be held out of the Royal St. George from the 5th to the 7th of August.

Results are here

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Under the picturesque mountain faces of Lake Garda Italy over 160 competitors gathered for Foiling Week. Foiling Week is a World Sailing Special event for which the top foilers from various classes come from all over the world to share new ideas, give demos and to race.

There was a large gathering in the Moth Fleet with the likes of Olympic Gold medallists Dylan Fletcher, Paul Goodison and Rugero Tita, racing in the regatta.

In the 66-boat Waszp fleet, 2021 Waszp U20 & Slalom European Champion Charlie Cullen (20) of the Royal St. George was reckoned to join the usual protagonists at the top of the Waszp Fleet.

Day one of the Foiling Week saw a tricky gusty 10-knot Ora south wind, which Charlie took advantage of, taking an early lead in the regatta, with a race win in race 3 of the day. But with Italian Enzio Savoini getting 2 bullets in race 1 and 2 and Jann Schuepbach of Switzerland 1 point behind, the competition was going to be tight.

Under the picturesque mountain faces of Lake Garda Italy over 160 competitors gathered for Foiling Week Photo: Angela TrawoegerUnder the picturesque mountain faces of Lake Garda Italy over 160 competitors gathered for Foiling Week Photo: Angela Trawoeger

Day two came with similar conditions. Charlie, staying consistent, maintained his lead grabbing another race win on the day. Enzio Savoini jumped to second overall after another race win

Day three saw very light conditions with at times no foiling. Italian sailor Ettore Botticini thrived in this wind getting a 3, 2, and 1 on the day. After these results and a 2nd discard kicking in the Italian took the overall lead, with Enzio holding 2nd and Charlie dropping to 3rd overall.

Going into the final day any of the top 5 could take the title. This also included 29er European Champion Ewan Wilson of Scotland and Italian Emanuele Savoini.

However, Charlie maintaining a consistent score throughout the regatta had great discards guaranteeing himself a spot in the top three. After super tough light wind racing on the final day, after 10 races the overall win went to Ettore Botticini on 23 points with Charlie taking 2nd with 25 points and first U25 - behind and Enzio Savoini on 28 points took 3rd. 

Waszp winners - Ettore Botticini (centre) with Charlie Cullen (left) second and first U25 with Enzio Savoini thirdWaszp winners - Ettore Botticini (centre) with Charlie Cullen (left) second and first U25 with Enzio Savoini third

“It was super fun racing” Charlie told Afloat. “ Conditions were incredibly tough, super shifty and patchy winds – but I was happy with my consistency in these conditions which is really promising going into the worlds Championships which will also be here in Lake Garda in the next weeks”

Charlie took the final race win, finishing on a high and securing his silver medal for the second year running. His super consistent scores during the regatta meant he finished with a total of 46 points with the next best having a total of 99 points.

Other Irish at the event, some of whom had also competed at the Weymouth UK Nationals in June as Afloat reports here, were sibling pair Max and Georgia Goodbody of the Royal Irish and Marcus O’Leary & Andrew Conan of the Royal St. George who all also had great performances during the regatta.

There are expected to be six Irish boats at this year’s Waszp World Championships that will be held from the 11th to 16th of July in Fraglia Vela Malcesine in Lake Garda.

Results here

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Waszp sailing

The Waszp project was conceived in 2010 by Andrew McDougall, designer of the world-beating Mach 2 foiling Moth. 

The Waszp was created as a strict one-design foiler, where, as the class says “the true test when raced is between crews and not boats and equipment”.

The objective of the class rules is to ensure that this concept is maintained. Keeping possible modifications to a minimum ensures fair racing across the fleet, helps to reduce the overall cost to the sailor and reduces the amount of time in the workshop. 

The popularity of the WASZP has proven that the boat and the concept work. In October 2021, 1237 boats had been sold to over 45 countries. 

The top speed recorded on the foiling dinghy is 26.7 knots. 

60-95kgs+ is a weight range competitive across varied conditions with rigs knowns as ‘8.2’ and ‘6.9’.

The cost of a Moth dinghy in Europe is €14,400 inc VAT + shipping according to the manufacturers in October 2021.