Matt Wearn takes lead at ILCA European Champs

Day 4 of the ILCA European Championships in Andora, Italy and Australian sailors came into their own in the best winds and most stable conditions to-date, the ILCA 6 (Women’s fleet) reeling off three races and the ILCA 7 (Men’s) two, with reigning Olympic champion Matt Wearn (AST) now leading the Championship.

Wearn won the first race of the day (Race 5 and the first race of the Gold fleet final), sailed in 16-20 knots, and placed second in Race 6, in 14-16 knot winds.

Zac Littlewood - On the way to a win Thom Touw pic
Zac Littlewood – On the way to a win Thom Touw pic

Zac Littlewood (ASS) enjoyed his best results, leaping from 38th to 17th overall. He finished seventh in Race 5 (four Australians were in the top seven) and won Race 6 from Wearn.

Despite two completed races, the Race Committee didn’t have much luck – Race 3 was abandoned on the second reach when the breeze became funky. Later in the day a protest led to the Jury abandoning the first final’s race due to a start error. So after four days, there are only five races on the scorecard.

Despite this, Littlewood was pleased with his performance.

“Pretty good day for the first day in the Gold fleet final,” Littlewood said, “but a long six-hour day on the water.”

The West Australian continued: “I did races before where I’ was at the front of the fleet, but we’ve had some weird days with waiting (racing delayed), light tricky air and lumpy seas. It’s spring, that’s why it’s all over the shop, so it’s good to put together a solid day.”

He explained that being split into three fleets until today, “All our races have been different, so it’s hard to compare the results. It’s been a bit of a luck of the draw situation, but now we’re in one fleet.”

And while the day’s conditions may sound very ‘Australian’, the 21-year-old said, “Wind chill and cold makes it hard to relate them to Australia. Obviously, though, the wind is good for the Australians. We’ve been here two weeks, so we’ve got used to the cold. It’s 13 degrees today.”

On moving forward, Littlewood explained, “We’ve had a big summer at home training. Now we’re getting in the final touches before competition at Palma (Princess Sofia Trophy) and Hyeres (France). We came here to get a bit of racing experience, I’m approaching it as more of a training regatta.”

Tokyo Olympian Mara Stransky (ASS) remains the best placed of the Australian squad contesting the ILCA 6. Maintaining a consistent performance, she is 11th overall. However, Casey Imeneo (ASS) was the best performed today, shooting up from 59th to 25th overall, counting 12th, seventh and sixth places on her scorecard.

“We had a more solid breeze than the previous couple of days,” Imeneo commented. “We didn’t have the south-west swell of yesterday either. We had some big waves instead.”

The first race was in 18-22 knots, the second in 15-19 knots and then it lightened a little to 8-14 knots for last race of the day.

On her improved performance, Imeneo explained, “Today I had to fix a couple of things in my approach to the start and executing my priorities, which I lacked in the first two days. With the stronger wind, too, I was able to stretch the legs and get some hiking in.

“I had a capsize in the first race when I was doing well, which was disappointing, but you just have to get the boat up and get sailing quickly again.

“There were a lot of capsizes among the Europeans today. They’ve mainly been sailing in light weather lately and I think they got a bit frazzled in the bigger winds.

“We did a fairly strong block of pre-Europeans training in Fremantle (Western Australia) where we got a lot of good practice in our last training as a team, especially with hiking,” the Victorian said.

Zoe Thomson amongst the waves - Thom Touw pic
Zoe Thomson amongst the waves – Thom Touw pic

Six races have now been sailed in The ILCA 6. The Australian squad of four are placed in the top 25, meaning all have easily made it into the Gold fleet final, starting tomorrow.

Organised by Circolo Nautico Andora (CNA) and EurILCA, the ILCA Europeans conclude on Friday 17 March local time.

Australian Sailing Team (AST), Australian Sailing Squad (ASS) and Australian Sailing Futures (ASF) results and overall placings:

ILCA 7 Gold fleet – 6 races (one drop)

1st Matt Wearn (AST) 1, 3, 2, (4), 2 = 8 points

10th Finn Alexander (ASS) 9, (11), 5, 9, 5 = 28

17th Zac Littlewood (ASS) 22, (28), 2, 17, 1 = 42

22nd Luke Elliott (ASS) 17, 6, 6, (20), 22 = 51

32nd Ethan McAullay (ASS) 3, 19, 13 (20), 33 = 68

ILCA 7 Bronze fleet – 6 races (one drop)

1st Stefan Elliott-Shircore (ASF) (52), 49, 19, 43, 1, 1 = 113 points

ILCA 6 (112 entries) – 6 races (one drop)

11th Mara Stranksy (ASS) 6, 4, 4, (14) 9, 9, = 32 points

16th Elyse Ainsworth (ASS) 6, (23), 6, 7, 18, 5 = 42

19th Zoe Thomson (AST) 7, (21) 5, 13, 8, 12 = 45

25th Casey Imeneo (ASS) 15, (47), 25, 12, 7, 6 = 65

For entry list and to follow the regatta, including full results, go to: https://2023-senior.eurilca-europeans.org/#

By Di Pearson/AST media

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