Conditions continue to perplex sailors at ILCA Europeans

The first day of Finals racing got underway at the ILCA European Championships in Hyeres, France, with the wind conditions continuing to mystify both sailors and the Race Committee.

The ILCA 6 fleet only completed one race today due to unstable winds, with the second race ultimately being abandoned at the top mark. However, the ILCA 7 fleet which was racing on a different part of the bay snuck in two complex races starting in 14 knots and finishing in under 6 knots of wind.

Tokyo Olympian, Mara Stransky, came away with a sixth place in the sole race of the day, which has rocketed her up to eighth overall. On the conditions, Stransky shared, “We had a northerly breeze fighting a westerly nearly all day, in the end, we managed one full race in the westerly at 7 to 10 knots.”

Stransky is pleased the Final series has kicked off and the intensity it brings to racing. She shared, “I’m enjoying the challenge of trying to keep a consistent scorecard when not much else is consistent and can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.”

Casey Imeneo CREDIT Yepa Photography EurILCA
Casey Imeneo CREDIT Yepa Photography EurILCA

McCrae Yacht Club sailor Casey Imeneo also jumped several places overall and now sits in ninth in the rankings.

Imeneo expanded on the difficulties of the race track, “Given the location of our race course area, the breeze is coming straight off the mountains and through the town so it’s particularly shifty and a wide range of pressure differences across the course.

“The key is getting off the line clean with access to the front early and being dialled into what phase you’re in. And as Bomby (Carolijn Brouwer) would say ‘you have to have your head on a swivel’.”

It was a tough day of racing in Gold Fleet for the Australian ILCA 7 Squad, yet the entire squad remains in the top 30.

Finn Alexander explained that it was a pretty strange direction for this location, and joked about how this is a classic regatta myth, that the conditions are never what you expect. The young sailor from Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron is still minimising points where he can and shot up 12 places in the standings today into 21st overall.

Alexander commented, “For me today was about saving the day, you had to be in the right spot at the start, and in both races, I found myself deep and having to claw back from the trenches. For me two 13ths feels pretty solid, it could have easily been a lot worse.”

Conditions are expected to persist in the off-shore direction over the coming days with two more days of racing ahead of them.

In the Championship so far, it’s Canadian Sarah Douglass who is leading the charge in the ILCA 6 fleet with all but one of her races a top 5 finish. In the ILCA 7, defending European Champion Michael Beckett from Great Britain is dominating. The British sailor has just 9 points to his overall scorecard, including four race wins after 7 races in inconsistent conditions.

An earlier start is scheduled for tomorrow at 10:00 local time with three races scheduled for all fleets.

For full results head to the official notice board here.

Australian Sailing Team (AST), Australian Sailing Squad (ASS), Australian Sailing Futures (ASF) and other Australian (AUS) entries:

ILCA 6 (109 boats) – Gold Fleet (55 boats)

8th – Mara Stransky (AST) – 13, 2, 9, (25), 7, 6 (37 points)

9th – Casey Imeneo (ASS) – 1, (19), 5. 1, 11, 8 (39 points)

11th – Zoe Thomson (ASS) – (12), 3, 4, 7, 9, 23 (46 points)

26th – Elyse Ainsworth (ASS) – 7, 8, 11, (16), 8, 44 (44 points)

52nd – Paige Caldecoat (AUS) – 25, 26, 25 (36), 18, 34 (128 points)

ILCA 7 (169 boats) – Gold Fleet (57 boats)

19th – Luke Elliott (AST) – 11, 1, 6, 21, 2, (28), 21 (62 points)

21st – Finn Alexander (ASS) – 13, 1, (BFD), 9, 18, 13, 13 (67 points)

28th – Ethan McAullay (ASS) – 6, 15, 4, 7, (16), 44, 30 (78 points)

29th – Zac Littlewood (AST) – 14, 10, 1, (28), 17, 9. 50 (79 points)

ILCA 7 Silver Fleet (56 boats)

89th – Sam King (ASF) – 38, 12, 30, (38), 26, 39, 14 (167) points)

Words: Lisa Darmanin

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JPK 11.80 July 2024