Race wins for Australians on day one of ILCA Euros

Australia’s sailors came out firing in Hyeres, France on day one of the Senior ILCA European Championships, with three sailors coming home with race wins.

After spending the last week training in a predominately on-shore easterly breeze, the Aussies found themselves racing in off-shore flat water conditions as the Mistral pushed in across the Mediterranean Sea.

ILCA 7 Start CREDIT Yepa Photography EurILCA
ILCA 7 Start CREDIT Yepa Photography EurILCA

In the ILCA 7 fleet Finn Alexander and Luke Elliott showed their skill in the shifty conditions with both sailors finishing the day with bullets (race wins). The Australian ILCA 7 squad haven’t raced an official regatta since the World Championships back in May, however, they showed little rust on their return to international competition today.

Elliott has recently christened a new Element 6 Evolution boat and is pleased with its debut performance. “The boat is feeling awesome,” said Elliot. “I’m loving my E6, it’s super easy to sail and it’s nicely finished.”

The sailor from Esperance continued, “It’s nice to be racing again. We’ve got a big strong fleet here so it’s fun to see where I’m sitting at the moment. My form is feeling great so I’ll just keep plugging away.”

The ILCA 7 fleet is stacked with big names and is currently in the depths of qualifying with four more races expected before the top 58 progress to the Gold Fleet.

After a strong day on the race track Elliott sits in 14th overall, followed by fellow race winner Finn Alexander in 15th overall. Ethan McAullay had a mixed day, however, after a successful challenge to the Jury on a Black Flag starting penalty, he is back in the mix at 30th overall, whilst fellow Western Australian Zac Littlewood is a few points behind in 33rd.

The women’s ILCA 6 fleet has barely had time to recover after their World Championships last month, however, the competition remains heated as 109 boats battle it out this week in France.

Stransky Leads the Pack CREDIT Yepa Photography EurILCA
Stransky Leads the Pack CREDIT Yepa Photography EurILCA

The Australian ILCA 6 squad showed their hunger to impress, with Mara Stransky, Zoe Thomson and Elyse Ainsworth sitting in ninth, 10th and 11th respectively, with both Stransky and Thomson posting a top three result on day one.

Victorian athlete Casey Imeneo won the first race of the day, relishing in the moderate to strong mistral breeze. Imeneo sits in 15th overall after coming unstuck in the second race of the day.

“It felt great to put together a solid race strategy and extend away from the fleet in race one,” commented Imeneo. “After a week of training in Easterlys, it was important to get out there and adapt sharply to the new westerly direction.

“The following race I got caught out a little too far on the left with lifting right-hand pressure. This made it difficult to get back into the race as it built to about 17 to 19 knots by lap two.”

Elyse Ainsworth demonstrated her consistency on a shifty race course, finishing with a seventh and an eighth place on the first day of qualifying.

Ainsworth shared, “It feels good to be back racing but it has been an enormous season and I think everyone is feeling it. Today was a good day, the first day of the event and two keepers, that’s all I could ask for.”

With the challenging off-shore conditions expected to continue, she concluded, “It’s going to be head up, eyes out for this week and maybe a bit of luck here and there.”

For full results head to the official notice board here.

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

ILCA 6 (109 Boats)

9th – Mara Stransky (AST) – 13, 2 (15 points)

10th – Zoe Thomson (ASS) – 12, 3 (15 points)

11th – Elyse Ainsworth (ASS) – 7, 8 (15 points)

15th – Casey Imeneo (ASS) – 1, 19 (20 points)

51st – Paige Caldecoat (AUS) – 25, 26 (51pts)

ILCA 7 (169 Boats)

14th – Luke Elliott (AST) – 11, 1 (12 points)

15th – Finn Alexander (ASS) – 13, 1 (14 points)

30th – Ethan McAullay (ASS) – 6, 15 (21 points)

33rd – Zac Littlewood (AST) – 14, 10 (24 points)

89th – Sam King (ASF) – 38, 12 (59 points)

Words: Lisa Darmanin

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