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The Toyko 2020 European Continental qualifier at the Finn Gold Cup in Porto is heading for a nail-biting conclusion with four sailors inside the top ten.

Spain’s Joan Cardona is fourth, but just six points ahead of Croatia’s Nenad Bugarin, while the European bronze medalist, Nils Theuninck from Switzerland, is in ninth place, a further 17 points back. However it is a long way from being over.

Ireland is also vying for a Tokyo place but after a difficult start to the event with two lost days so far, Donaghdee's Oisin McClelland is lying 31st in the 52-boat fleet.

Three races are possible on Wednesday and the forecast indicates a good day of sailing is on the cards. Both Maloney and Junior have heavier discards than Berecz, but with three races, the championship is still wide open.

Racing is scheduled to commence at 11.00 local time.

Results after Day 4

1 NZL 61 Andy Maloney 18
2 HUN 40 Zsombor Berecz 23
3 NZL 24 Josh Junior 28
4 ESP 26 Joan Cardona 29
5 CRO 10 Nenad Bugarin 35
6 GBR 41 Giles Scott 43
7 USA 91 Luke Muller 44
8 ESP 17 Pablo Guitián Sarria 46
9 SUI 1 Nils Theuninck 52
10 GRE 77 Ioannis Mitakis 56

Full results here: https://proregatta.com/events/162/

Published in Tokyo 2020

Whilst different storms rage elsewhere in the sailing world, for the second day running, no racing was possible at the 2021 Finn Gold Cup after offshore Atlantic storms brought very unstable conditions to Porto. Northern Ireland's Oisin McClelland is seeking a place on the Irish Olympic sailing team in July if he can win the final nation berth for Tokyo 2020 on offer in Porto this week.

It wasn't for lack of trying. After more than four hours trying to get a start away on the third day, the race team had to contend with 120-degree shifts, huge waves, waterspouts, hail storms, and wind ranging from 3-33 knots. However, with a deadline to be back in the harbour before the ebb tide kicked in, the fleet was sent ashore with no more races on the board.

The course and marks were moved more than a dozen times with more than 10 starts attempted, but each time it was abandoned in the final minute and one shortly after the start got away on a huge shift. It was a long, cold day on the water. Full credit to the Herculean efforts of the race officers and their team to do everything possible to try and get a race away. But sometimes it is not meant to be.

There are two more days left in the Finn Gold Cup, with a maximum six races possible and one more needed to get a valid series. Conditions look set to stabilize, so the fleet is keeping everything crossed ready for Tuesday.

Results so far here

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Donaghadee Sailing Club's Oisin McClelland is lying 31st after the first race sailed at the 2021 Finn Gold Cup in Porto, Portugal where the Northern Ireland sailor is bidding to take the last available place at the Tokyo Olympic Regatta

Racing was cancelled on the second day with huge waves battering the harbour entrance in the afternoon and a complete lack of wind in the morning, following overnight storms.

While the start time had been brought forward, at 10.30 the huge ocean swell was breaking over the top of the breakwater and it was still raining hard with no wind on the course area. Local authorities had imposed a 14.00 deadline to be back ashore because of concern the strong ebb tide would cause conditions at the entrance to deteriorate further, so at 11.30, with still no wind at sea the decision was taken to abandon for the day.

Racing is expected to resume today (Monday)

Results here

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Northern Ireland’s Oisin McClelland will join than 60 Finn sailors from 30 nations converging on Porto in Portugal for the 2021 Finn Gold Cup next week.

Pre-race prep begins on Wednesday 5 May before the 10 races scheduled from 8-12 May in what will be the final chance to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games — with one spot available for both Europe and Africa.

It’s also potentially the final Gold Cup for the Finn as an Olympic class, so the Donaghadee Sailing Club prospect — who ended this months Finn Euros in 33rd place — is determined to finish on a high, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Finn Gold Cup organisers have posted a teaser trailer on YouTUbe to give a taster of what to expect.

Published in Olympic

With a personal best achieved in the Finn European Championships in 2020, the hope was that Donaghadee Sailing Club sailor Oisin McClelland would make a further improvement in Vilamoura, Portugal this week at the 2021 championships, an important milestone on his road to the Finn Gold Cup, (the final Tokyo Olympic Qualifier), next month in which he seeks to gain the last spot in Tokyo for Ireland.

But apart from a solid sixth place taken in race six, McClelland was, unfortunately, unable to improve on his 23rd spot at the Polish 2020 Euros and finished 33rd overall in a fleet of 49 yesterday.

Next month's Gold Cup is also in Portugal and as previously reported on Afloat, McClelland is determined to finish this quadrennial on a high: "My primary goal is to qualify for Tokyo, it's the goal I have built this campaign around and I set out to achieve in 2016. However, that aside, this may be the last Finn Gold Cup held as an Olympic class I would really like to achieve a great result overall. I've made good progress despite the tough year, systematically targeting weaknesses and building them into strengths. I look forward to testing this in May." He adds: "Give me the right conditions I can achieve some top-level race results, my focus going into the regatta is to combine the progress in each area of my training from the past three years and achieve the best result I can."

Zsombor Berecz successfully retained the Championship after a consistent, confident and conclusive display on the waters of Vilamoura over the past week.

The Hungarian never put a foot wrong and achieved a level of consistency unmatched by the fleet and then put the pedal to the metal when it mattered to win with a race to spare.

Giles Scott’s return to Finn sailing after six months off with the INEOS Team UK America’s Cup team was also a triumph. A shaky start for the Brit was followed by a few classic Scott moments but he did just enough to fend off the massive challenge from the ever-confident young sailors knocking on his transom.

With the pressure on and the finish line in sight, Switzerland’s Nil Theuninck rose to the challenge to dominate the final race and secure the bronze, the first Finn European medal for Switzerland for over 30 years.

Spain’s Joan Cardona was largely unchallenged for the U23 European title, his third in a row, but fourth overall reinforces his ability and determination ahead of the final Olympic qualification event next month.

Berecz won his first Finn European title last year in Gdynia, Poland.

He said, “I think the trophy likes me. It was in very bad condition last year and I fixed it and now it’s in great shape again, so we like each other. It was a very tough week but consistency again paid off and I am very happy to win it again as it’s a great trophy.”

“I’m also very happy to be part of the Finn family and I think that’s the great thing in Finn sailing, not so much the boat itself, but the people who are sailing the boat.”

Published in Tokyo 2020

Donaghadee's Olympic campaigner Oisin McClelland has had a difficult start to the opening four races of the 2021 Open and U23 Finn European Championship in Vilamoura, Portugal and is currently placed in the bottom quarter of his 49-boat fleet.

The Ulster sailor will be keen to improve his performance as the event reaches its halfway point today. The next six races of the series that conclude on Friday are critical given this is McClelland's last big race opportunity before the final Olympic test next month at the Finn Gold Cup where he is aiming to take an Olympic berth for Ireland in Tokyo this Summer.

The solo sailor has previously found great form at European Championships, for example in 2018, when McClelland finished just outside the top third on a 91-boat fleet in Cadiz as Afloat reported here.

A start at the 2021 Open and U23 Finn European Championship in Vilamoura, PortugalA start at the 2021 Open and U23 Finn European Championship in Vilamoura, Portugal

Cardona in serious form

Joan Cardona, the defending U23 European Champion from Spain, showed some serious form on the second day of the event. Cardona is one of the world’s most exciting emerging sailing talents, and today won both races in a fleet packed with some of the best Olympic sailors in the world.

He leads the 49 boat fleet from 29 nine nations after four races. Hungary’s Zsombor Berecz drops to second while Croatia’s Milan Vujasinovic climbs to third.

Cardona has already made his mark elsewhere in the sport. He won the 2020 eSailing World Championship and is a member of the Spanish SailGP team, but his Olympic career could be over before it even starts, having no chance to sail another boat due to his physique.

“I feel like the Finn class has so much more to offer me, but if it is not Olympic any more my Olympic dream will end at the age of 22.”

He dominated the racing on Tuesday, always in the mix and making the breaks count.

The left side of the course was popular in Race 3. After a clear start in around 9 knots, most of the fleet headed left but the leaders at the top were those who came back on a long port tack about half way up. France’s Jonathan Lobert was first round from Cardona and Vujasinovic.

In an increased wind, with free pumping, a good swell and nice waves the good sailors were able to get going downwind and stretch out a lead. Lobert and Cardona extended while Nils Theuninck, from Switzerland, pulled up to fourth at the gate. There were also big gains from Jorge Zarif, from Brazil, Max Salminen, Sweden, and Oskari Muhohen, from Finland. Regatta leader Berecz also moved through the fleet.

On the final upwind, the leaders played the left and most of the fleet followed, so not much changed. The wind dropped to 8-9 knots on the final downwind, with a huge spread across the course trying to find more breeze. The leaders separated by over 600 metres at times with Cardona passing Lobert on the right and Theuninck leading the left. It was a close finish but Cardona crossed just ahead, while Lobert finished third.

Race 4 got away first time in slightly less wind at about 8 knots and again the left was favoured. Those who got the better starts led to the left and crossed back ahead. At the top it was Vujasinovic, Taavi Valter Taveter from Estonia, Lobert, Brazil’s Jorge Zarif and Cardona.

There were still some waves left over from the morning, but no free pumping and those who gybed away down the middle made some gains downwind. The leading group of six arrived at the gate almost together with Vujasinovic still leading.

While the group went left again on the final upwind, a later right shift brought a few a boats through the fleet, with Antoine Devineau, from France, in particular gaining around 15 places. However the front group emerged unscathed, with Cardona now leading, and set off for the finish in just 6-7 knots of wind.

On the final run Cardona pulled out a nice lead from Vujasinovic, who crossed second while Nicholas Heiner, from The Netherlands, recovered to third.

Day 2

After a high scoring first day, Lobert picked up a third and a fourth, the second best score of the day behind Cardona.

Lobert said, “Pretty happy with my day. Yesterday was a terrible day for me. I was a bit rusty from racing and I sailed too conservatively. Today I decided to trust myself more and sail the shift as I saw them. I was leading almost all the first race but on the last downwind I lost Joan and Nils coming back with the pressure. On the second race I kept the same mood and I crossed the finish in fourth. It a very good day but most of all I am getting my confidence back.”

Winning two races at a major Finn championship doesn’t happen very often, but today for Cardona it all came together.

“Today was a really good day for me. I really like those conditions of about 8-12 knots and choppy waves. I had a really good speed upwind and downwind and took really good decisions in key moments. I am really enjoying being on the water with such a great fleet and such tight racing.”

Following the news this week that World Sailing consider there is a distinct possibility the offshore keelboat option will be rejected by the IOC for 2024, the prospect exists again that the Finn could be included for Paris 2024 after all.

Cardona explained how this decision would affect him.

“For me it would be a life changer if the Finn class makes it to the next Olympics. I am still U23 and did not manage to qualify to the Olympics yet.”

He is still one of the youngest sailors here but is showing great form in one of the toughest fleets in the world.

“This fleet is so talented that taking all of us out from the Olympics, it's a really big loss for the sport of sailing. I really hope the Finn class can stay Olympic for much more time.”

Racing in Vilamoura is scheduled to continue at 12.00 on Wednesday.

Results after 4 races

1 ESP 26 Joan CARDONA 21
2 HUN 40 Zsombor BERECZ 27
3 CRO 369 Milan VUJASINOVIC 28
4 TUR 21 Alican KAYNAR 44
5 CAN 18 Thomas RAMSHAW 51
6 SWE 33 Max SALMINEN 52
7 GBR 71 Henry WETHERELL 56
8 NED 89 Nicholas HEINER 58
9 GBR 41 Giles SCOTT 58
10 SUI 1 Nils THEUNINCK 59

Full results here

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Tokyo Olympic solo sailor campaigner Oisin McClelland of Donaghadee in Northern Ireland is among the entries for the 2021 Open and U23 Finn European Championship that gets underway in Vilamoura, Portugal, this morning with around 49 sailors from 29 nations competing.

Over the coming week, 10 races are scheduled up to Friday 16 April.

It's the penultimate regatta in McClelland's long road to qualifying Ireland in the Finn, a heavy weight men's class that McClelland has been campaigning since 2015. 

McClelland of Donaghadee has secured several results with the top 32 Worlds, 23 in the 2020 Europeans and a credible 8th in Kieler Week.

Portugal will host the Finn Gold Cup early this May and McClelland, which will be a big event for McClelland. It will not only determine the 2021 Finn world champion but also the final two places at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

There are two places left to decide, one European place and one African place to complete the fleet taking part in the Games.

This week though, it's all about preparation for that do or die May event with sailors from around the globe now rigged up and ready to race in Portugal.

The furthest travelled for this event and taking part in his first major Finn event since 2019, is Jake Lilley, from Australia.

“It’s really nice to re-connect after an extended period away. It was great action when we were all together for the Gold Cup in Melbourne, so I’m really looking forward to more racing at the Euros and Gold Cup in Portugal this year.”

While he has not been racing in world quality fleets as usual, he has been able to train in large fleets in Australia

“Training in Australia has always presented its blessing in the Finn. We have beautiful conditions year round and the fleet is really thriving Down Under. My home club (RQYS) has 40 boats alone. It was amazing to be racing weekends with 30+ guys when the rest of the world was in lockdown. So it’s a bit of a disconnected feeling to what everyone else has had to go through.”

“I’m also super lucky with coach Rafa [Trujillo] and Finn legend, Anthony Nossiter, throwing their righting moment around for the long upwind slogs in domestic training. I think having the old school smarts and the help from two heroes is a beautiful thing and puts us in really good stead with speed and preparation. So it’s just up to me to put it all together on the racetrack now.”

Two of the British sailors have come almost direct from the America’s Cup in New Zealand. While Giles Scott, is preparing to defend his Olympic title in Tokyo in August, INEOS Team UK grinder, Ben Cornish, is also back in a Finn for a while, though he says it’s not a comeback.

“Giles asked if I could come and do some training with him, in his compact build-up the Olympics this summer. Of course I couldn’t say no.”

“It’s certainly not a comeback for me, but it’s a rare opportunity to compete in the Finn for pure enjoyment. Having been on the grinding wheel with the America’s Cup at INEOS Team UK for the past three years it’s refreshing to be thinking about ‘conventional’ racing and decision making, and of course with so many people I enjoyed racing over the past years.”

Cornish, who dropped out of his Olympic campaign and joined INEOS Team UK after the decision to drop the Finn from 2024 is expecting a very high standard of competition. “It’s clear to see that people have spent a lot of time training this winter and beyond through lockdowns. As we know people are looking to find form in Olympic year so I expect to see some strong results within the fleet.”

“I hope the venue delivers some good racing conditions and everyone can have an enjoyable week out on the race course.”

Published in Tokyo 2020

Following this week’s cancellation of the French Olympic Week, in Hyères, of which the Finn Open and U23 European Championships was included, the International Finn Class has accepted an offer from the Vilamoura Sailing Center to host the event over the same dates, which remain 10-16 April.

The event is a crucial competition ahead of the all-important Finn Gold Cup, three weeks later in Porto in northern Portugal, which is the final continental qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, where the last places for Africa and Europe will be decided.

With many sailors training over the winter in Lanzarote or Cadiz, Vilamoura was a logical option to limit further travel around Europe in these uncertain times. Vilamoura will also provide excellent preparation for the many sailors still trying to qualify their country for Tokyo, with similar conditions and the same format.

The Finn class feels very fortunate to have had a number of high quality offers to help out and stage the championship at such short notice, including the Andalusian Sailing Federation Training Centre in Cádiz, Spain, which also held the 2018 European Championship.

Balazs Hajdu, President of the International Finn Association commented, “We are very grateful to all those who offered to host our Europeans at short notice and are very happy to accept the proposal from Vilamoura in what is a very important period for many Finn sailors as they prepare for the crucial Finn Gold Cup in nearby Porto.”

“For the team in Vilamoura to put together a championship of this importance in just a few days gives us confidence that our sailors will have a great and fair championship.”

The class is eagerly looking forward to its first visit to Vilamoura since the highly successful European Championship in 1998.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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The RYANI has congratulated Donaghadee sailor Oisin McClelland on his strong showing at the Hempel World Cup Series in Miami last week.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Finn sailor from Northern Ireland finished fourth, just shy of the podium, after Saturday’s (25 January) medal race on Biscayne Bay.

RYANI chief operating officer Richard Honeyford said: “Oisin sailed well throughout the week in Miami. He secured three top three finishes in the 10-race series and really showed his skill in the stronger breeze.

“While he narrowly missed out on the bronze and a podium place in the end, Oisin’s hard work and training throughout the year really paid off.

“He is a fantastic role model for our young sailors and at RYANI we look forward to supporting Oisin as he continues in his campaign for the Tokyo Olympics.”

McClelland will have one more last chance to claim a spot in this summer’s Tokyo Olympics at the final European qualifier, the Hempel World Cup series event in Genoa, Italy from 11 April.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s Oisin McClelland was resurgent on the waters of Biscayne Bay yesterday (Saturday 25 January) but finished just shy of the podium after the Finn medal race at the Hempel World Cup Series Miami.

The Donaghadee Sailing Club stalwart finished fifth in the final, ahead of Luke Muller of the USA whose points total over the week was enough to secure the bronze for himself.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, American Caleb Paine had already won Finn gold ahead of the weekend with his unassailable lead over Canada’s Kyle Martin, who took the silver medal and finished second in yesterday’s race.

McClelland will have his last chance to claim a spot in this summer's Tokyo Olympics at the Hempel World Cup series event in Genoa, Italy from 11 April.

Yesterday's Finn medal race can be watched back in full below:

Published in Tokyo 2020
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