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Wearn remains on top in tricky day at ILCA European Championships

by Di Pearson / AST media 16 Mar 18:41 PDT 12-17 March 2023
Matt Wearn has retained the Championship lead - ILCA European Championships 2023 © Thom Touw Sailing Photographer

Light airs with a big swell returned on Day 5 of the ILCA European Championships in Andora, Italy, where two races were held in the ILCA 6 (Women's) and ILCA 7 (Men's) fleet on a day when an unprecedented protest was held ashore and Matt Wearn (AST) retained his lead.

Prior to racing, the ILCA 7 (Men's) fleet staged a one-hour protest in view of the poor quality of race management at what has been an interesting Championship to say the least.

Those following the event were left scratching their heads when the results finally appeared, as the order of the ILCA 7 races has been changed, so do not reflect what happened on the water in the two races held overnight.

Needless to say, Olympic gold medallist, Matt Wearn has retained his lead of the Championship. Finn Alexander (ASS) is next best placed in 10th.

In a breeze predominantly from the south-east, Ethan McAullay (ASS) did some of his best work, sailing to sixth and third places, moving him up the leaderboard from 32nd to 14th.

The West Australian was pleased with his day's work: "I didn't have the best qualifying series, so today was good for the scoreboard," he said.

Kicking off the Championship with a third place, McAullay has since struggled to find his mojo again until today.

"We sailed in a dying 10 knots with a big swell. I had two good starts at the boat end, tacked and sailed cleanly. In the sort of conditions we sailed in, if you were in the top five, you stayed away from the rest of the fleet and avoided getting in everyone's dirty air," said the 22-year-old who celebrated his 22nd birthday three weeks ago with team mates.

"It got it bit lighter in second race. We started in 10 knots and it died down to 2-3 knots," he explained of a race that enabled him to again stay clear of the rest to finish third, sailing in the top five the fleet the entire race."

Of staying on top of his game in light air and when there is sometimes long waiting times between races, McAullay said, "It easier to stay motivated when you're at top bit of fleet. It is hard to stay switched on between races though, hard to stay switched on all day, so I keep it for the races."

As the international fleet of 186 boats waited in a dying breeze that showed no promise of returning, organisers called a halt to the day, so the planned third race was not sailed.

"We've got one more day of racing and then it's off the water for a week," McAullay concluded.

Two of three planned races were held in the ILCA 6, the third cancelled when the wind died.

A mixture of results for the Australian squad. Overall, Tokyo Olympian Mara Stransky (ASS) was the more consistent and is in eighth place overall. This despite being beaten by Zoe Thomson (AST) in the first race of the day and by Elyse Ainsworth (ASS) in the second.

"It was whacky on the water. Again they tried to start races in the morning, but we were postponed onshore. We eventually went out in a north-easterly that turned into a light and fickle south-easterly," Stransky said.

"I had two bad starts. The boat end was the place to be, but it was too crowded and I didn't want to be part of that, so I started at the pin, which turned out not the right thing to do. Those that started at the boat sailed with height and got away, while I got caught in the rest of the fleet and couldn't get out.

"It was tricky sailing anyway, as there were pockets of pressure here and there, but it was hard to see those spots," the recently turned 24 year-old said.

"Now I have to minimise the impact of my mistakes and we only have one day of racing left. Hopefully tomorrow we'll get a decent race or two in, but the cut off time to start any races is 3pm."

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 Gold fleet (7 races, 1 drop)

1st Matt Wearn (AST) 1, 3, 2, 4, 5, 2, (17) = 17 points
9th Finn Alexander (ASS) 9, 11, 5, 9, 14, 5, (31) = 53
14th Ethan McAullay (ASS) 3, 19, 13 20, 6, (33), 3 = 64
22nd Zac Littlewood (ASS) 22, 28, 2, 17, 13, 1, (53) = 83
25th Luke Elliott (ASS) 17, 6, 6, 20, 17, 22, (58) = 88

ILCA 7 Bronze fleet (6 races, 1 drop)

1st Stefan Elliott-Shircore (ASF) (52), 49, 19, 43, 1, 1, 17 = 130 points

ILCA 6 Gold fleet (8 races, 1 drop)

11th Mara Stranksy (ASS) 6, 4, 4, (14) 9, 9, 8, 12 = 52 points
13th Elyse Ainsworth (ASS) 6, (23), 6, 7, 18, 5, 14, 10 = 66
14th Zoe Thomson (AST) 7, (21) 5, 13, 8, 12, 7, 15 = 67
31st Casey Imeneo (ASS) 15, (47), 25, 12, 7, 6, 31, 32 = 128

For entry list and to follow the regatta, including full results, go to:

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