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Irish sailors searching for best outcomes at ILCA European Championships

by Treasa Cox 20 Nov 2022 15:08 PST 16-21 November 2022
Irelands's Rocco Wright at the ILCA 6 European Championships in Hyères © David Branigan /

After a gruelling seven hours afloat off the Côte d'Azur today (Sunday 20th November 2022, Hyères, France) Irish sailors are considering their options for a best case finale to the ILCA European Championships on Monday.

In contrast to the start of the series earlier in the week, conditions have proven unpredictable with most team-members dropping down their respective rankings despite some individual promising performances.

Rio Olympian Finn Lynch (National Yacht Club) was unable to find his more regular form for the lighter winds in the three race day that saw him score a 16th-39th-32nd which dropped him to 32nd place overall.

"We just didn't find the right mode to get in front of the fleet at the beginning," commented Vasilij Zbogar, Irish Sailing's Laser coach. "The truth is... I don't know; we were going so well before the event but now we have different conditions.

"Finn mentally was prepared well and is feeling well. We're struggling a little bit for speed in these conditions for the set-up we have could be a little bit better."

The triple Olympic medallist pointed to Lynch's improved performance in the upper wind range earlier in the week calling it a "huge step forward." Normally, the Carlow sailor would be expected to perform well in the conditions of the past two days.

"I'm not feeling great - I need to be doing better," Finn Lynch said after racing ended. "There is a lot of luck involved in these conditions but I need to be better so that I can afford to have bad luck."

For the remaining two races, Lynch will be aiming to finish on a high with individual best results though both the podium and most likely the top ten are beyond his reach.

"It's very much snakes and ladders, you have to keep your wits about you all the time because of the gusts coming left right and centre across the course," said Ewan McMahon (Howth Yacht Club) who lies 41st in the Gold fleet. "You really have to be switched on and take your opportunities when you get them."

Making as few mistakes as possible but also taking risks was a point made by all the Irish sailors and echoed by McMahon. Like his senior team-mate, he too is looking for two solid results on Monday to finish off the championship on a high note.

In the women's ILCA6 event, Eve McMahon (Howth YC) also pointed to the tricky conditions. "It's not really a good thing for a sailor to say but I think that with these conditions you just have hit a side (of the course) and say a prayer - it's absolutely mad out there! There's no playing through the middle so you just have to chance your luck."

McMahon reckoned she was rounding marks in good positions but then dropping back so learning to manage the fleet will be a learning priority at the start of her senior career.

A 20th and a 34th leaves her in 34th overall in the 55-strong Gold fleet event for the ILCA6 women's title.

Meanwhile, only eight races have been completed for the ILCA6 Men's event despite almost eight hours afloat. Having won the Gold at the Youth World Championships earlier this year, Rocco Wright has his sights firmly set on the Under 21 title as he leads his 64-boat fleet by a comfortable 20-point advantage with the final day to sail.

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