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This week we caught up with former ISA Academy Laser sailor Ben Lynch following his successful season aboard Green Dragon...

Name: Ben Lynch
Age: 22
DOB: 24/06/90
Height: 186cm
Weight: 79kg
Sailing club: National Yacht Club
Education: Primary & Secondary
Occupation: Professional sailor
Sports as a Junior: Soccer
 
How did you start sailing? My Dad introduced me to sailing in a Squib. I fell in love with it within minutes and then it was all I could think or talk about! 
 
What boats did you sail as a junior? As a junior I sailed mainly Toppers but I also did a lot of playing around in Catamarans as we sailed in Blessington and they were cat mad there. When I turned 15 I moved into a Laser Radial.
 
What did you learn from these boats? From the Topper I learnt a huge amount, from learning how to tack all the way to port tacking a fleet. In the cats I learnt just how much I love speed, getting wet and having fun while racing. 

What boats did you sail in the ISA Academy? While I was in the Academy I sailed both Laser Radials and Standards
 
What did it involve being in the Academy? Being involved in the Academy meant I was able to fast track my learning by being put into a group that had the best Laser sailors in the country already training together and helping each other to improve. My first year in the Academy saw a steep learning curve in both sailing and life skills. On our trips away to regattas it was great to be cooking for ourselves and being given some freedom. This freedom definitely made me more mature which also came through in my sailing as my results and attitude improved.
 
The Academy involves a lot of commitment in terms of time and preparation in Sailing... did this help you improve as an athlete / sailor and what do you think you learnt from it? The Academy definitely helped me improve as a sailor and an athlete. Over my time as a Youth Academy member I was always thinking about my fitness levels and nutrition, how it affected my sailing and what could be done to improve it. The environment that the Academy creates is brilliant and makes you want to be super prepped and professional about your own training and racing. It definitely showed me how committing to consistent training as an athlete yields huge results. Even now on much different boats I can apply the same principals which I learnt while being a member of the Academy.  The confidence I gained from my time with the team has seen me safely across the Atlantic on a 50ft boat, I have helmed confidently on a Volvo 70 doing 28 knots downwind in the dark and have competed at a high level as a crew in the 49er class for two years.

Most importantly did it help to prepare you for life down the road in any way outside of sailing? Since sailing Lasers with the Academy I have competed in endurance races outside of sailing. While competing I’m often thankful that we were pushed hard while in the Academy as it taught me how to push on and suffer for what will in the end be a positive outcome and a personal triumph. Quite often people say that I seem more mature than other 22 year olds. That could have only come from two places - my family or the Academy......I think I got it from both! The structure and opportunity that the Academy gave to me has helped me become a more responsible and mature person.

What is your current occupation? I have just come to the end of a successful summer season as Bowman and Watch Leader onboard the Vovlo 70 Green Dragon in which we won the Round Ireland Race.
 
Do you still sail and if so what class? Currently I sail Volvo 70's and still sail 49er's on occasion 

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