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Irish Sailors Strike Double Gold at Youth Sailing World Championships

15th July 2022
Eve McMahon (left) celebrates her World Sailing Youth Gold in The Hague
Eve McMahon (left) celebrates her World Sailing Youth Gold in The Hague with rival Roos Wind of the Netherlands Credit: Sailing Energy

Both of Ireland's single-handed sailors have won Gold medals at the Allianz Youth Sailing World Championships in The Hague this afternoon (The Netherlands, Thursday 14th July 2022)

Eve McMahon, the 2021 Irish Sailor of the Year, and Rocco Wright, both from Howth Yacht Club delivered stellar performances over their seven-races series that started on Sunday.

More Gold for Eve

McMahon led her 55-strong field from day one, scoring all top three results for the week including four race wins. Her worst result of the week - a sixth place - only came in the final race today that was beset by light winds.

"It feels amazing - last year's fourth place in Oman was so disappointing," McMahon said shortly before the medal ceremony. "I'm so proud of Ireland to achieve Gold at the worlds and to make it a double in the same year is history-making."

ILCA 6 Youth Gold - Rocco Wright Photo: Sailing EnergyILCA 6 Girl's Youth Gold - Eve McMahon. After just missing out on the podium last year, McMahon has worked hard at her racecraft and her fitness. The Irish sailor won gold by a big margin ahead of Evie Saunders (AUS) and Roos Wind (NED) who took silver and bronze. "I’m really proud of what our small team has achieved here," said McMahon of Ireland’s all-round performance in The Hague. "Compared with Oman, I think I brought a different mindset this year. There are so many variables in sport so I’m just trying to keep everything consistent and everything in perspective." Photo: Sailing Energy

Female One Person Dinghy ILCA 6

  • Gold: Eve McMahon (IRL)
  • Silver: Evie Saunders (AUS)
  • Bronze: Roos Wind (NED)

Gold for Rocco

Rocco WrightILCA 6 Boy's Youth Gold - Rocco Wright. The 15-year-old only graduated from the Optimist to the ILCA 6 dinghy a few months ago but is clearly a fast learner and one to watch for future years at Youth Worlds. It was a very close battle between multiple sailors in the last-race showdown. Wright took gold by a single point from last year’s winner Sebastian Kempe (BER). Kempe won silver by beating Ole Schweckendiek (GER) on tiebreak, so bronze to Germany.Photo: Sailing Energy

Wright made his mark in the Male single-handed event on his first ever appearance at a Youth Worlds by ending the penultimate day in second overall but only separated by tie-break from the leader.

"I tried not to think about the others around me and just sail my own race," said Wright about keeping focussed at his first Youth Worlds appearance. "I didn't expect to win so it's all a bit mind-blowing really."

A confident start in the final race saw the Dublin sailor beat Ole Schweckendiek by finishing fourth, one place ahead of his German rival which was enough to break the points tie as American Peter Barnard missed the podium with a 14th place.

"I came here hoping for a top 10 but not really knowing if I was good enough," said Wright. "To win here at my first world championships is a dream come true. I’m just amazed and really excited. I can't wait to celebrate with my friends and family and obviously, it's been a pretty good day, a pretty good week actually."

"I was so surprised that Rocco displayed such maturity at such a young age (15) as he remained calm and executed the result," said Vasilij Zbogar, Irish Laser Coach. "Two Irish winning Gold in the ILCA6... I still can't quite believe it; the work is paying off - all of us are on the right track."

In claiming gold, the online tracker here reveals just how close things were. In the closing stages of race 7 on the Tracker, given IRL ended up 1 point only ahead of both BER (finished second in race 7) and GER (finished third). It's incredibly tight, Wright ends up winning gold by half a boat length. It certainly looks like the HYC youth also had to contend with an Israeli who retired just before the finish but could have influenced points too. 

Male One Person Dinghy ILCA 6

  • Gold: Rocco Wright (IRL)
  • Silver: Sebastian Kempe (BER)
  • Bronze: Ole Schweckendiek (GER)

Both McMahon and Wright now switch their attention to Texas later this month where they compete in their ILCA6 class world championships, a stand-alone event that differs from this week's championship where all disciplines are in competition.

McMahon is defending her 2021 world title in the class and this week's result, coming on top of her European title win last week in Greece leaves her in a strong position. Along with Zbogar, she planned a Summer of three major events and a pathway to victory in each.

Meanwhile, Ireland's third boat at the event featuring Emily Conan and Lauren O'Callaghan (Royal St. George YC) finished with their best day of two ninth places and improved to finish 15th overall in their 23-strong 29er female skiff event.

Results here

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