Bronze medal for Rocco Wright at European Championships in Italy !
Friday 17th March 2023
After an eleven race series at the ILCA European Championships (Andora, Italy) defending title-holder Rocco Wright (Howth Yacht Club) emerged with the bronze medal for his event after a close final day of racing.
Mattia Cesana of Italy edged ahead to become the new ILCA6 men's champion.
Along with Greek sailor Athanasios Kyfidi who took the silver on tie-break, the leading trio had enjoyed a week long duel at the front of their 71-boat event in a range of conditions. Although winning second in one of the final day's races, a race win would have been needed to dislodge Cesana.
“Rocco was getting caught in a group on the starts today when he needed to do his own thing,” commented Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing’s Head Coach. “He also hadn't been sailing for four weeks as he was recovering from illness.”
The ILCA 6 event also saw Fiachra McDonnell (Royal St. George Yacht Club) place ninth overall with some very solid performances over the series that augurs well for the future.
In the men's senior ILCA7 event, Finn Lynch (National Yacht Club) worked back from twin disappointments on Thursday to finish tenth European and the 13th overall in his event.
“It was a very, very up and down week for me, a good start and a decent ending," he said after racing ended. "I was happy with how I was sailing but definitely lots of room to improve.”
The series had started with plenty of promise including straight fifth places in the qualification round, setting the Carlow sailor on a good trajectory into the final round.
"Today we tried to be at least top ten of the Europeans and we managed that, it's a good result, a good average but obviously we wanted to be in the fight for the medal," commented Irish Sailing Laser coach Vasilij Zbogar. "But a bad race and a lost protest makes that almost impossible in this tough fleet”.
“There are good signs - we're always there (in the top results) which is most important."
Although Ewan McMahon was able to comfortably qualify for the Gold fleet, including a race when he placed second behind Lynch in an unusual 1-2 result for IRL sail numbers, the Howth sailor ended the event in 45th overall.
Meanwhile, his sister Eve rounded off her regatta in the ILCA 6 women's event in 14th in the European Championship. The 19-year old is on her first full season at senior level and is making steady progress after her triple Gold medal season in 2022.
“Eve had a good day and is definitely making progress in the fleet and learning a lot with more to come,” commented Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing’s Head Coach. “She doesn't have as much time in the boat as the older seniors but is getting faster and just needs to improve her speed.”
The Irish squad are next in action at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia in Palma, Mallorca at the start of April.
Day 5, Thursday 16th March 2023: Podium beckons for Rocco Wright at European Championships in Italy
After challenging conditions at the ILCA European Championships in Andora, Italy, defending title-holder Rocco Wright (Howth Yacht Club) faces a two-race challenge for Friday's finale with an almost certain prospect of a podium result.
Greek sailor Athanasios Kyfidis and Mattia Cesana of Italy edged ahead of Wright today but just seven points separate first to third places in their event, the ILCA 6 men's championship.
The leading sailors have opened up a large gap on the points table to the remainder of the 71-boat class that includes Fiachra McDonnell (Royal St. George Yacht Club) in eleventh overall.
However, the day ended with disappointment for top ranked world sailor Finn Lynch (National Yacht Club) who placed fourth in the day's first race for the senior men's ILCA 7 event. A protest by Australian event leader Matt Wearn against the Irish sailor for an alleged rules infringement saw Lynch accept an arbitration penalty ashore following the end of racing for the day.
The added points dropped Lynch to 15th overall and his best outcome for the championship would be a top ten placing on Friday.
"It's a back-handed compliment of sorts when the championship leader goes after you," commented Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing’s Head Coach. "If Finn was mid-fleet or not considered a real threat he wouldn't have bothered."
Meanwhile, Howth's Eve McMahon ended her penultimate day in 18th overall in her 56-boat ILCA6 women's senior event.
"It was all about no risk, no reward," commented Fitzpatrick. "Eve played the middle (of the course) but got passed on the sides. For both Rocco and Eve, the only form of defence today was attack."
Racing concludes on Friday with two races scheduled for all three events in the combined championship.
Day 4: Results tighten as the Team remain strong in final days of European Championships, Wednesday 15th March 2023
With just two days remaining of the ILCA European Championships (Andora, Italy) the team are in contention in at least two events with top ten results also in sight as conditions improve for the 378 competitors.
Defending European champion Rocco Wright (Howth Yacht Club) in the ILCA 6 event moved into the overall lead thanks to a race win on Wednesday. He holds a two point overall lead from Greek sailor Athanasios Kyfidis and Mattia Cesana of Italy tied for second place.
Wright's lead would be slightly better but for a capsize in the final race of the day when he placed eighth, his worst result of the series so far which he discards. Nevertheless, his fourth day of competition still counted another race win and all top ten results to date.
There was a further strong showing for Fiachra McDonnell (Royal St. George Yacht Club) who had a very consistent day with a fifth, sixth and third places that shift him back up the ranks to sixth overall.
Meanwhile, the ILCA 6 class is the senior level event for the women's competition where Eve McMahon (Howth YC) improved from 19th to 15th overall thanks to sixth and third places as well as a 12th as her event moves into Gold fleet finals racing from Thursday.
"Eve had a solid day with good improvements from training in terms of boatspeed," said Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing’s Head Coach. "She goes much better at the top of the fleet when she gets up there now."
In the ILCA 7 event for senior men, top ranked world sailor Finn Lynch had a setback before the day's first race began when gear failure struck his new boat. The device that stops the centreboard from popping up failed and a repair at sea was needed. He couldn't compete and incurred maximum points which he discarded.
A 19th place followed with the repair in place which dropped him to ninth place overall in his Gold fleet.
"We had quite nice wind from 15 to 22 knots," commented Vasilij Zbogar, Irish Sailing's Laser Coach. "Unfortunately Finn had gear failure before the first race but everything is still open."
Racing across all fleets continues with the final for the coming two days.
Day 3: Team in strong positions going into finals of European Championships, Tuesday 14 March
At the mid-point of the ILCA European Championships in Andora, the Team are holding strong overall positions at the conclusion of the qualifying round of four races to determine the Gold fleet ahead of Friday's final result.
Finn Lynch (National Yacht Club) delivered another two fifth places on Tuesday before ending the qualification round with a race win.
There was a historic moment when second place in the same race was taken by team-mate Ewan McMahon (Howth Yacht Club) with a 1-2 result for IRL sail numbers at a major championship event.
In the men's ILCA 6 fleet, Rocco Wright (Howth Yacht Club) rounded off his qualification round with an emphatic race win and lies second overall in his event by a single point.
As defending champion, the young sailor overcame a shaky start to the day when he capsized while in second place but recovered to finish sixth. In the next race, he placed third before going onto his race win.
As lowest scoring boat overall in his 71-boat event, he is well placed for the coming three days of racing to decide the championship.
Team-mate Fiachra McDonnell (Royal St. George Yacht Club) also had a mixed day and lies 14th overall in the event thanks to a 14th place in the final race.
In the senior ILCA 6 women's event, Eve McMahon (Howth YC) recovered from a port-starboard incident shortly after the first race started and sailed well to place 14th and then ninth in the second race of the day.
“It was still quite a shifty day, breeze up and down and quite tricky,” said Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing’s Head Coach, speaking of the Irish Youth World Champion. “She's worked quite hard at her boatspeed in the past two months and is able to pick off boats (while recovering places)."
With just three races sailed in the qualification round for the ILCA 6 women, Wednesday will see a further three races scheduled before deciding the finals line-up to be sailed over the remaining two days of the event.
Solid performances on Day 2 at European Championships, Monday 13 March.
Although light winds again played havoc with the racing schedule at the ILCA 7 European Championships (Andora, Italy) all three Irish boats racing today delivered solid performances in their opening race of the series.
In the senior ILCA 6 women's event, Eve McMahon (Howth Yacht Club) recovered from a poor start to the race and over the first lap of the course worked into the top ten boats of her flight. On the second upwind leg, she slipped back a little and placed 12th which is still a good start to the event in her 116-boat event.
“It was another fickle day. There was breeze to start with but it faded away,” said Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing’s Head Coach, speaking of the Irish Youth World Champion. “There was plenty of learning for the day for such a young sailor.”
Also on the same course area, the Men's ILCA 6 class had their first race of the series that saw both Irish sailors place in the top five.
Fiachra McDonnell (Royal St. George Yacht Club) placed second while Rocco Wright (Howth YC) had a fifth.
"Fiachra and Rocco executed their plans well, so a solid start to their series," said Fitzpatrick. "A couple of other guys went for the race win strategy a little harder than they did but it’s still a solid start to the series for them."
The senior men's ILCA 7 class had no wind on their course to allow a second race so Tuesday will again be a waiting game to see if the weather delivers enough wind for a planned three-race day across all fleets.
Finn Lynch (National YC) had a fifth place on Sunday while Ewan McMahon (Howth YC) placed 20th in their single qualification round race sailed to date.
Day 1 and a Solid start for the Team at the ILCA European Championships in Italy
In spite of near calm conditions for the opening day of the ILCA 7 European Championships (Andora, Italy 12/3/23), Ireland's sailors that did have races delivered a good start to the six-day series.
Rio Olympian Finn Lynch (National Yacht Club) scored a fifth place in his qualification race while Ewan McMahon (Howth Yacht Club) sailed most of his race in the top ten before slipping to 14th at the finish.
A total of 191 entries are competing with the finals scheduled to begin on Wednesday for Gold, Silver and Bronze fleet splits.
"We had very light conditions, shifty and unpredictable with a lot of current that was the key factor today," commented Vasilij Zbogar, Irish Sailing's ILCA coach. "Both (Irish sailors) had quite good results though the race was very much on the limit from beginning to end; it was a good day and a good start to the event."
However, there was no racing for the women's ILCA 6 event although multiple attempts were made to get races away in the windless conditions.
"We had very light, fickle conditions," commented Rory Fitzpatrick, Head Coach with Irish Sailing. "No complete races for ILCA 6, lots of attempted starts and Black Flag disqualifications though none for Irish sailors."
The men's event was sailed in breeze of three to five knots with a one knot current running across the course area.
"Finn got out of the blocks well so he'll be happy to start the regatta with a nice counter," said Fitzpatrick.
An improved weather forecast is expected for Monday when both events are expected to sail three races to catch up on the regatta schedule.
Irish Sailing Team head for European Championships
Members of the Irish Sailing Olympic Team have arrived in Andora in Italy for the first international competition of the season. The ILCA team will compete at the 2023 ILCA Senior European Championships which sees both men and women competing in the ILCA 6 and 7.
On the team are Olympian and world silver medallist Finn Lynch (National YC) and World and European youth champion Eve McMahon (Howth YC). Also competing for Ireland is Ewan McMahon an experienced campaigner and older sibling of Eve.
Competing in the non-Olympic ILCA 6 men’s division are Irish Sailing Academy teammates Rocco Wright and Fiachra McDonnell. While not a major event in their calendar, it will be good for them to get competition in early in the season.
This summer Finn Lynch was placed second in the world in the World Sailing rankings, thanks to a consistent string of results that included a silver medal at the ILCA7 World Championship in Barcelona in November 2021 and his 6th place at the 2022 ILCA 7 Men’s World Championship in Mexico in May 2022.
Andora will be Eve McMahon’s third senior level European championships but her first not competing as a Youth. She had an extremely successful summer in 2022 winning a hat-trick of gold medals at the ILCA 6 Youth European Championships in Greece, the World Sailing Youth World Championships in the Netherlands, the ILCA 6 Youth World Championships in Texas, and finishing with silver at the U21 ILCA Youth World Championships in Portugal in August.
In the men’s ILCA 7 fleet there are 195 sailors representing 42 countries, including the reigning Senior European champion Pavlos Kontydes, the reigning World champion Jean Baptiste Bernaz (France) and the reigning Olympic Gold medallist Matthew Wearn (Australia). The ILCA 6 women’s fleet sees 117 sailors representing 40 countries, including the reigning Senior European champion Agata Barwinska of Poland, and the reigning World champion and Olympic Gold medallist Anne-Marie Rindom of Denmark.
The team is supported by Irish Sailing Head coach Rory Fitzpatrick (OLY) and ILCA 7 coach Vasilij Zbogar, three-time Olympic medallist from Slovenia. In addition to the coaching team Ireland will have psychologist Kate Kirby and physiotherapist Mark McCabe in attendance at the event.
“It is quite unusual to have a peak event so early in the season but it provides a great opportunity for our ILCA sailors to get a gauge on how their winter programmes have impacted their progress” said James O’Callaghan, Irish Sailing Performance Director.
Racing begins on Sunday 12th March and concludes with the medal races on Friday 17th March.
To follow the competition and results: https://2023-senior.eurilca-europeans.org/