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ILCA European Championships: Wearn and Stransky in form

by Di Pearson / AST media 14 Mar 2023 21:24 PDT 12-17 March 2023
Mara Stransky in the lead group downwind - ILCA European Championships © Thom Touw Sailing Photographer

Tokyo Olympic gold medallist Matt Wearn and Tokyo Olympian, Mara Stranksy, are leading the Australian squad after Day 3 of the ILCA European Championships in Andora, Italy, where a north-easterly wind fighting a south-westerly current and results of a protest became the news of the day.

Wearn's consistent results of 3-2-4, following a win yesterday, have him positioned in fourth place overall, with a drop now in play. He is one point off the lead and shares equal points with second and third placegetters overall. This after a long, hard day on the water for the ILCA 7 fleet.

Finn Alexander from NSW fared well too, moving up the ranks from 25th to 14th after scoring 10-4-8 results. Zac Littlewood also lifted, following a second in Race 3.

Both ILCA 7 and ILCA 6 fleets battled big winds on a large swell, which brought many undone.

It was particularly hard for the ILCA 6 sailors who were involved in a long evening and an early morning of protests, starting at 7am, before the Red fleet undertook three races. The first of the day was a resail of the group's opening race yesterday.

The protests were a result of the jury report stating that 12 boats in the Red fleet rounded the robotic mark before it motored itself around 200 metres upwind, making the race unfair.

In the end, the top 12 only from the Red group received two bites of the cherry, able to choose their best score from the original Race 1 and the resailed Race 1. The remainder of this group were scored under the resail. The unusual decision did not sit well with the majority of the fleet, including the Yellow group, where the top sailors positions were affected by the decision.

So it was that the Red fleet sailed three races, while the Yellow fleet sailed two, giving both a total of three races put to bed.

Mara Stransky (Yellow group) produced another strong performance, adding a pair of fourth places to her sixth of yesterday to remain sixth overall.

"There were big issues with the mark drifting yesterday that created issues within issues. It's sorted now, but we didn't get out on the water until mid-morning," the Olympian explained.

"I was stressed when I first went out. We had to go into the protests too, because the other protests affected our fleet, but I knew I had to leave it behind me.

"The first race was similar in direction to yesterday with a big swell. In the second race, the north-easterly came in strongly - 20-23 knots - but against a big south-west swell. It mixed things up a bit. We're learning on the go with swell and the difference in directions.

"I am enjoying the racing though. Keeping your concentration high is critical in these conditions," the Queensland sailor shared.

ILCA 6 squad sailors, Elyse Ainsworth and Zoe Thompson were in the Red group and both finished the day in good stead. Thomson picked up 7-21-5 results for 15th place overall, while Ainsworth finished the day with 6-23-6 results for 17th place. A drop will come into play when a fourth race is sailed.

"A really interesting situation to be in," Ainsworth mused. "I know the class is trying to advance technologically and sometimes you have to sit through it and deal with it," she said, referring to the protests from which she was not a beneficiary.

"You have to know when it's best to tap out of situations like this. I went to the protest last night. It's draining, but not worth dwelling on. I put it to the side and went sailing today," the 24-year-old from Western Australia said.

"From my perspective, racing started from scratch again - Races 1, 2 and 3 on Day 3. It was tricky racing. Just getting off the start line and doing what you wanted to do; keeping it simple and not getting too complicated was the way to go.

"The conditions are not something we come across too often in Australia. They suit me though. A bit extreme, but I'm OK with it."

On her 23rd place in Race 2, Ainsworth said, "I think everyone will have a big loss here and you have to mitigate it. You need a bit of patience in these conditions and I think I'll leave here having learnt to be very patient by the end of the week," she said laughing.

There are six Australian men (ILCA 7) representing in the Australian Sailing Team (AST), Australian Sailing Squad (ASS) and Australian Sailing Futures (ASF) and four women in the ILCA 6.

Organised by Circolo Nautico Andora (CNA) and EurILCA, the ILCA Europeans conclude on Friday 17 March local time.

Australian Sailing Team (AST), Australian Sailing Squad (ASS) and Australian Sailing Futures (ASF) results and overall placings:

ILCA 7 (186 entries) - 4 races

4th Matt Wearn (AST) 1, 3, 2, (4) = 6 points
20th Finn Alexander (ASS) 9, (11), 5, 9 = 23
23rd Luke Elliott (ASS) 17, 6, 6, (20) = 29
31st Ethan McAullay (ASS) 3, 19, 13, (20) = 35
39th Zac Littlewood (ASS) 22, (28), 2, 17 = 41
134th Stefan Elliott-Shircore (ASF) (52), 49, 19, 43 = 111

ILCA 6 (112 entries) - 3 races

6th Mara Stranksy (ASS) 6, 4, 4 = 14 points
15th Zoe Thomson (AST) 7, 21, 5 = 33
17th Elyse Ainsworth (ASS) 6, 23, 6 = 35
59th Casey Imeneo (ASS) 15, 47, 25 = 87

For entry list and to follow the regatta, including full results, go to: 2023-senior.eurilca-europeans.org/#.

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