Disappointment and determination at Princess Sofia World Cup 2023

Disappointment and determination at Princess Sofia World Cup 2023

Day 5: Disappointment and determination in Palma (Friday 7 April)

Gold fleet racing ended today at the Princess Sofia World Cup of Sailing regatta in Palma with no Irish crews through to medal race finals for the first time in several editions.

Despite a small improvement in form for Robert Dickson (Howth Yacht Club) and Seán Waddilove (Skerries Sailing Club) in the 49er skiff class, there was no return to their winning form of Wednesday that might have reversed their final 20th place overall.

In the single-handed classes where three Irish sailors had reached Gold fleet, impressive boat-speed alone was insufficient to lift Carlow's Finn Lynch (National Yacht Club) into the top ten for the medal race in the ILCA 7 class and he ended the series in 25th overall.

Ewan McMahon (Howth Yacht Club) ended in 37th place in the 184-boat class though he was quite pleased with some of his work over the event and has identified areas he can improve on in the coming months.

His sister Eve McMahon who achieved Gold fleet on this, her first World Cup of Sailing regatta was still disappointed with 35th in her 107-strong ILCA 6 event, buoyed by her triple Gold medals from the conclusion to her junior career just last summer.

For the coaches, debriefing the sailors and working on several fixable issues is the next priority.

"The result is not what we want for sure, especially as for the past four years we've always been battling for a medal here in Palma," commented Vasilij Zbogar, Laser coach with Irish Sailing.  "Recovery from the Europeans two weeks ago wasn't managed well enough so we need to adapt for the next time."

Finn Lynch's hand injury still hasn't healed fully but his boat-speed is clearly very good and he showed this week that he can recover from a bad starting position in the fleet really well.

"It's really hard sailing, very close and really small things make the difference like being 100% rested, 100% focused."

In terms of Eve McMahon's potential, her results understate her actual performance.  "What she's doing in the boat she's doing really well, she just needs to make it more automated," said Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing's Head Coach.  "Eve's doing these things very well but she just needs more time to dial it in."

Meanwhile, extra practice for light airs conditions is on the cards for the 49er sailors as their performance in Wednesday's windier conditions is clearly linked to their result.

"There were some really good positives like having good days and leading the regatta," said Matt McGovern, Irish Sailing's 49er coach commenting on Dickson and Waddiloves' week. "The crux is executing the starts well and also boat-speed in the light stuff - if we don't start well then we don't have the boat-speed to recover and get back on plan."

The next event in the World Cup of Sailing is French Olympic Week in Hyerés from 23rd to 29th April for all classes.




Day 4: Blow to hopes at Princess Sofia World Cup (Thursday 6 April)

Hopes of a strong result for the team sailors competing at the Princess Sofia World Cup of Sailing regatta were set back today when light winds and handling errors proved costly.

Robert Dickson (Howth Yacht Club) and Seán Waddilove (Skerries Sailing Club) had started the day wearing the overall leaders' yellow bibs for the 49er skiff class after their stellar day on Wednesday.

But in stark contrast to their earlier form that included two race wins, the Tokyo Olympians appeared to stumble in the lighter winds, notably in their starts.  In three out of the four races for the day, the pair placed at the back of their 25 boat Gold fleet.

Only the top ten boats at the end of Friday's racing progress to Saturday's medal race final to determine the podium and the Dublin pair are now 19th overall.

"We just didn't execute (at the starts) even after some really good work but with just some kind of sloppiness didn't execute and ended in a world of trouble," commented Irish Sailing's 49er coach Matt McGovern.  "On a day like that, if you're starting after a major error and you're ten or 20 seconds behind, when the next wind-shift comes you're the last boat to tack on it so it’s very much a hard game from there."

Meanwhile, across the bay under the gaze of El Ceu, Palma's historic cathedral, the single-handed classes were also coming to terms with the lighter winds.

Carlow's Finn Lynch (National Yacht Club) improved steadily as the three-race day progressed including several impressive comebacks from the rear of the 60 boat ILCA 7 fleet.  His results were 22nd, 14th and an eleventh but ultimately lacked the top ten individual race results that he is known for as the world ranked No. 3 sailor in his event.

Lynch finished the day in 20th overall having displaced Ewan McMahon (Howth Yacht Club) who slipped back a place to 26th overall after counting two mid-fleet results and discarding a 50th place.

Amongst the ILCA 6 women in their Gold fleet, Eve McMahon (Howth YC) was disappointed with her performance.  "It was a very mediocre day for me unfortunately, my starts today really let me down which isn't like me," she said after coming ashore in C'an Pastilla.  "I think the Black Flag (disqualification) on the first day has thrown me a little bit - I haven't had one of them in quite a while."

Fleet racing in Gold, Silver and Bronze divisions concludes on Friday with the top ten boats in each of the ten events that comprise the Olympic regatta format going forward for a high-scoring short medal race final on Saturday.


Day 3: Rob and Seán catapult into overall lead (Wednesday 5th April 2023)

A stellar day on the Bay of Palma today saw Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove take the overall lead in their 49er skiff event as they comfortably qualified for the Gold fleet final round at the Princess Sofia Trophy.

The pair ended the second day of qualification racing with two race wins and a fourth place.  The next three teams are all tied for second place in this world class fleet of 103 boats.

"Rob and Seán had an absolutely stellar performance, sailed it fast, kept themselves out of trouble and did all the basics well and got a big pay-out for it," commented Matt McGovern, the Irish Sailing 49er coach who is also a double Olympian.  "They were the best 49er boat in all the fleets today so you can't really ask for much more than that."

Team-mates Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan (Royal Cork Yacht Club) also had a good day in the same qualification fleet posting a steadily improving 15th, eighth and a fifth in the close racing.  However, finishing in 39th overall means the pair narrowly miss qualification for the Gold fleet series.

Amongst the single-handers, Ewan McMahon (Howth Yacht Club) tops the Irish boats heading into Gold fleet for the ILCA7 class in 25th overall, boosted by an eighth in the second race today and a 15th earlier that he discarded.

Rio 2016 Olympian Finn Lynch (National Yacht Club) had a consistent day posting seventh and eighth places which pulled him up to 34th overall and inside the Gold fleet.  Jamie McMahon (Howth YC) placed 140th overall and will compete in the Bronze fleet finals.

"It was the first day with decent racing conditions, 13-17 knots sea breeze and we didn't spend too much time on the water which was very positive," said Vasilij Zbogar, Irish Sailing's Laser coach.  "Finn and Ewan did a decent day - tomorrow is the start of the finals so everything is still open."

Meanwhile, Eve McMahon (Howth YC) steadily moved up the rankings for the day in the ILCA 6 to place 27th going into the final round thanks to a 21st, 14th and ninth for the day.

"Eve had a reasonable day today and moved up the leader board," said Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing's Head Coach.  "She's made a lot of improvements and is getting used to using them around the track, so it’s been a good learning experience for her."

Racing continues on the ten different racing areas around the Bay of Palma for the next three days with all sailors competing to win top ten places that compete for the podium of each event in a single, high-scoring medal race final on Saturday.

Pic by David Branigan/Oceansports


Day 2: Good individual results (Tuesday 4th April)

Breezy conditions on the Bay of Palma brought fresh challenges to the sailors racing on the second day of the Princess Sofia Trophy for Olympic classes today in Palma, Mallorca. Rio 2016 veteran Finn Lynch (National Yacht Club) had a top 20 result in his opening race but was disqualified for early-starting in Race 2.

The Carlow sailor went on to place 13th in his third race of a long day afloat in the ILCA7 class and will be relishing the worst race discard that come into force after the fourth race of the series scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, Ewan McMahon (Howth Yacht Club) rounded off a solid day when he followed a 14th and a 12th place with second overall in his Red fleet of 63 boats.

His sister Eve McMahon racing in the women's ILCA6 event put the disappointment of an early-starting disqualification on Monday behind her to place seventh in the second race of the day.

In spite of spending seven hours afloat and although the conditions were sunny for much of the day with up to 15 knots, the wind direction oscillated over 20-30 degrees and a steady course couldn't be set by the race committee for more than three hours.

Conditions permitting, three further races are scheduled for both ILCA single-handed fleets in the Men's and Women's events for Wednesday which will conclude the qualification round to decide Gold fleets across all classes in the regatta.

Meanwhile, the unsteady conditions took their toll throughout the mammoth event including the 49er skiff event that only had two races sailed.

Robert Dickson (Howth Yacht Club) and Seán Waddilove (Skerries Sailing Club) served up a fourth and an eleventh for the day.  However, their team-mates Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan (Royal Cork Yacht Club) had a 19th in the opening race but also fell foul to the Black Flag in their second race.

"We ended up with more wind than expected and more stable than expected which is always nice," said Matt McGovern, Irish Sailing's 49er coach.  "Rob and Sean had a solid opener and but a very tough start for Seafra and Johnny - it wasn't the start to the series that they wanted."


Day 1: Flukey conditions on Bay of Palma hamper racing (Monday 3 April)

While last week's pre-championship training had ideal conditions grace the Bay of Palma, today's opening schedule of the Princess Sofia Trophy in the World Cup of Sailing series was largely abandoned due to the weather.

After a delay ashore for the ILCA 6 & 7 women and men's classes, racing started in sunshine and light winds.  However, the breeze direction started changing ahead of several rain showers and most races that started were soon abandoned.

In their ILCA7 Men's flight, Finn Lynch (National Yacht Club) and Ewan McMahon (Howth Yacht Club) both had started their races well and after two legs were both holding top ten positions when the wind died and the race was abandoned.

Jamie McMahon's flight was the only race completed where he finished 51st on provisional results and is considering a redress application for a mark rounding incident in which he was infringed.

In the women's ILCA6 event, Eve McMahon (Howth Yacht Club) saw her race abandoned but not before she picked up a Rule 42 penalty for illegal propulsion just before the race was stopped due to lack of wind that had dropped to 1.2 knots.

Three races are now scheduled for Tuesday for those fleets that didn't get racing but the forecast again suggests further challenging weather until later in the week.

Meanwhile, the 49er skiff event is scheduled to begin racing on Tuesday with two Irish boats entered.

Tokyo Olympians Robert Dickson (Howth Yacht Club) and Séan Waddilove (Skerries Sailing Club) will be racing against Seáfra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan (Royal Cork Yacht Club) in the Blue flight of their class which is expected to have three races - weather permitting.

"Rob and Séan have been going extremely well in training and have made real gains over the winter," said Matt McGovern, Irish Sailing 49er coach.  "Seáfra and Johnny have always been good in the light and shifty stuff and appear to have done great work in their starts and boat-handling so hopefully they're more rounded."

The Princess Sofia Trophy is the first event in the World Cup Sailing series and has attracted more than 1,300 athletes across all ten Olympic disciplines to Mallorca for this six-day series.  The overall goal for the season is the first Paris 2024 qualification opportunity in The Hague in August.


Quick turnaround for the Irish Sailing Team as they head to Sailing World Cup  

There has been a quick turnaround for the Irish Sailing Performance Team. With the ILCA European Championships behind them where Finn Lynch secured a top 10 finish, Eve McMahon scored 14th and sixteen-year-old Rocco Wright won bronze in the ILCA 6 Men’s class, the senior athletes are now in Mallorca for the Trofeo Princesa Sofia, the first event in the 2023 World Cup series. 

Competing for Ireland in the week long regatta (Monday 3 to Saturday 8 April) are Olympian Finn Lynch and Ewan McMahon in the ILCA 7 and Eve McMahon in the ILCA 6. 

In the 49ers are Olympians Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove, along with teammates Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan.  

Irish Sailing Performance Director James O’Callaghan commented

“it’s a hugely intense period for the programme with almost no downtime but the sailors are taking the challenge head on and looking to grow as a result of the opportunity presented”.  

The Princesa Sofia is the first event in 2023 World Cup Series with organisers planning for a large international presence in Palma Bay, Mallorca, with an expected 950 boats from 63 countries.   

The long week of racing starts on Monday 3 April for the ILCAs, followed by the 49ers on Tuesday 4 April. Both classes finish on Saturday 8 April. The ILCAs have a maximum of 10 races in total, or two per day over five days, ending in a medal race on Saturday 8 April. Each race lasts approximately one hour. The 49ers have a maximum of 12 races, 3 on each day (4 days of racing), each lasting about 45 minutes, and ending with a medal race on Saturday.  

Weather conditions in Palma at this time of year are in the mid-20 degree Celsius, with typically southerly winds.  

Follow the competition and results HERE

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