ILCA Europeans: Aussies set for gold fleet

It was another long and wavy day on the Black Sea as the 2021 ILCA Senior European Championships in Bulgaria hit the halfway point.

Luke Elliott is feeling good being back in competition and knows the significance this has for his Paris 2024 campaign.

“It’s really important to start the lead-up to the next games well and check in with an international fleet for the first time in nearly two years,” Elliott said.

Elliott is sitting fifth overall and is using this event as a warm up for the World Championships in Barcelona, Spain in early November. Elliott commented “This is all great training for the Worlds in a few weeks’ time.”

The top 58 Laser men will head into gold fleet racing tomorrow, with all Australian entrants making the cut.

Laser start line
Gold fleet racing commences on Thursday. Pic – EurILCA

In 27th overall Fremantle Sailing Club athlete Ethan McAullay has found the racing challenging, however is looking forward to the second half of the regatta.

“This is my first time in gold fleet at a senior event so I’m not quite sure what to expect,” McAullay said. “Racing so far has been super tough. I’ve been struggling to get off the start line but managing to get back to good positions with good decision making and speed.”

The Radial fleet only completed one of their scheduled races today. It was another strong day for Western Australian pair Elyse Ainsworth and Zoe Thomson who built on yesterday’s performances finishing seventh and 11th respectively to move up the rankings.

“I am happy to be racing again,” Zoe said. “It has definitely been a shock lining up against a few more boats, but overall I am open to making mistakes and will look to keep improving through the remaining days.”

The Radial squad have had Olympic gold medallist Matt Wearn sharing the tricks of the trade in his role as squad coach this week.

“It’s been cool to have Wearny’s perspective on how he approaches the challenging conditions we’ve seen and how he breaks down fleet management and priorities,” Zoe shared. “I am definitely keen to keep learning from him and take it forward to the Worlds.”

Wearn is happy with how the Radial squad are embracing the tough conditions and long waiting game.

“Today was a late start for us in 15-17 knot winds,” Wearn said. “Some rain came through during the only race of the day and made for a big shift and severe drop in wind.”

Wearn may need to get some tips from his Olympic coach Michael Blackburn on how to manage his days sitting in the coach boat. “The girls managed it well, although I did get some soggy socks which wasn’t part of the deal!”

There were brutal Black Flags for both Zac Littlewood and Mara Stransky today, but they were not alone with 13 others receiving a BFD in the Radial fleet and 16 across the Laser fleets.

Gold fleet racing starts tomorrow, with three races scheduled for each fleet playing catch-up.

View the full results here:

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

Laser (115 Boats)

5th Luke Elliott (AST) – 2, 6, 1, (8), 2

14th Zac Littlewood (ASS) – 8, 14, 6, (BFD)

20th Finn Alexander (ASS) – 17, 19, 5, (31), 4

27th Ethan McAullay (ASS) – (25), 6, 10, 17, 22

Laser Radial (78 Boats)

11th Elyse Ainsworth (ASS) – (38), 28. 4, 18, 7

19th Zoe Thomson (ASS) – 30, 25, (35), 10, 11

25th Mara Stransky (AST) – 4, 21, 41, 26, (BFD)

32nd Casey Imeneo (ASS) – (40), 33, 15, 24, 37

By Lisa Darmanin

Cyclops Marine
JPK August 2023