Confidence high for Aussies going into iQFOiL European Championships

With just fourteen months until the start of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, European regattas are filling the calendar, and following rapidly on from key events in Palma and Hyeres, the iQFOiL Europeans will take place in Patras, Greece, with racing from the 9th-14th May.

As this is a new venue for most of the competitors, Australian Sailing Team iQFOiL coach Arthur Brett explained the squad’s preparations for the event.

“We have certainly experienced a wide range of wind conditions at Patras during the twelve days the iQFOiL men’s squad have been training here. There are plenty of challenges when sailing at a relatively unknown venue, but the extra time here has allowed us to get a decent understanding of what to expect,” said Brett.

“With a wide range of experience in this squad, the athletes have been working well together and gaining a lot of confidence, meaning they are all looking forward to testing themselves against the world’s best in our final regatta of this European trip.”

What has been interesting for coach and athletes is the mix of conditions they have all experienced during their pre-event training, as athlete Samantha Costin (Australian Sailing Squad and QAS) explained.

“It is super deep here – sixty metres at certain points, and so there have been some issues with setting marks, plus there are a lot of mountains and some bridges surrounding the course,” said Costin.

“This means everyone must adjust, because in the later stages of our preparations here we had had some extreme thunderstorms, with lightning cancelling any training. There isn’t a great deal of tide here – but there is current. The current changes the water state in the centre of the race area, making the foils bite a little differently and making them feel draggier.”

Arriving two weeks before the event, the men’s Australian iQFOiL squad experienced more predicted conditions, with a sea breeze building into the afternoon. With those conditions expected for the first part of the event, confidence is high as Grae Morris (Australian Sailing Squad & NSWIS) confirmed.

“It’s great to get here and have some quality time working out this venue. There is certainly a lot of testing and validating equipment going on here at the moment – particularly ahead of the test event in Marseille in early July, and the Worlds shortly after that in Holland,” said Morris.

“So much of this is venue specific. Working out which foils work best here, particularly with that feeling of increased drag due to the current, is a big thing to get your head around.”

Patras wraps up a solid start to the European Season for Costin.

“It has been pretty full on. I competed in Palma, then did a training block in Marseille, then raced in Hyeres and now here. There has been plenty of moving around Europe, with a lot of learning. This is my first season in the squad with all the coaching support, and so I am getting my head around how we approach regattas and structure all this, meaning it has been super interesting,” noted Costin.

“We have a plan on when I am rotating through sails, and so this venue is more about foil adjustment. Interestingly, this is one of the only European venues that we are concerned about sea life. I am used to coming to Europe and not seeing too much wildlife in the water here compared to Australia, but here there are sharks, turtles, and plenty of weed to contend with.”

The iQFOiL European Championships in Patras will be one of the smaller events for competitors. Averaging over 100 female athletes at previous events, due to Patras being a more remote venue, there is likely to be around 95 female athletes competing, with 128 entered in the men’s fleet.

Visit the event website for full results: https://iqeuropeans2023greece.sailti.com/en/default/races/race

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

iQFOiL Women

Samantha Costin (ASS) (QAS)

iQFOiL Men

Grae Morris (ASS) (NSWIS)

Steve Allen (ASS)

Harry Joiner (ASS) (WAIS)

Jack Marquardt (ASF)

Jake Lilley (AUS)

Words by Blue Robinson.

ENDS

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Web: www.australiansailingteam.com.au

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