Tricky return to international competition for Aussie sailors

Day one of 2021 ILCA European Championships saw 220 sailors from 45 nations battle it out in gusty and shifty winds.

The racing in Varna, Bulgaria was a timely reminder of the intricacies of racing for the Australian Sailing Team (AST) and Australian Sailing Squad (ASS) athletes after a long lay-off from international competition

In the Laser Radial class, Tokyo Olympian Mara Stransky relished being back in competition on the Black Sea.

“It’s so exciting to be back with the internationals,” Stransky said.

Aerial shot of Lasers sailing out from land on a run.
Nine Australian sailors are competing in the 2021 ILCA European Championships. Pic – EurILCA

“We had a moderate onshore breeze with some big pressure differences across the course. It was pretty hectic having 80 boats on the start line.”

Stransky came away with a 4th and 21st in her first races back after the Olympics.

“I was a bit race rusty, but on the whole I am happy with the shakedown and can’t wait for the rest of the week.”

Matt Wearn, who has his coaching hat on this week, is pleased with how the Australian Radial sailors took to the tough conditions.

“Mara started strong with a top five and had a nice fightback (in race two) to save some points. The others are still finding their feet. There is plenty to work on, but the potential is there.”

In the Laser Men’s fleet Luke Elliott slid back into racing with ease, posting a 2 and a 6 to be placed 4th overall at the end of day one.

Some found it difficult to navigate the density of an international fleet again. Finn Alexander described it as “shaking the dust off after no international racing for such a long time.”

Recently crowned Under 21 World Champion, Zac Littlewood is adjusting well to racing in a senior fleet following his junior win last month, posting “a couple of keepers.”

“I’m just enjoying being here racing and learning how to race in this fleet before Senior Worlds next month,” Littlewood said.

The Laser Men are split across two fleets for qualifying, up to 4 more races will be sailed before allocations to gold and silver fleets are made. The Radial Women are racing in one 78 boat fleet that will continue for the remainder of the week.

For the full results, see:

Australian Sailing Team (AST)and Australian Sailing Squad (ASS) entries:

Laser (115 Boats)

4th Luke Elliott (AST) – 2, 6

14th Zac Littlewood (ASS) – 8, 14

27th Ethan McAully (ASS) – 25, 6

29th Finn Alexander (ASS) – 17, 19

Laser Radial (78 Boats)

9th Mara Stransky (AST) – 4, 21

25th Zoe Thomson (ASS) – 30, 25

32nd Elyse Ainsworth (ASS) – 38, 28

38th Casey Imeneo (ASS) – 40, 33

By Lisa Darmanin

JPK August 2023
Cyclops Marine