Wearn finishes third at ILCA European Championships

Tokyo Olympic gold medallist Matt Wearn (AST) has finished best of the Australians competing at the ILCA European Championships in Andora, Italy, while Tokyo Olympian, Mara Stransky (ASS), has come out the top Australian in the ILCA 6 in what has been a difficult week of sailing.

Wearn, from Western Australia, led the ILCA 7 Championship by one point to 2016 and 2020 Olympic silver medallist, Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) coming into the day’s last three races. An assortment of 16-2-21 scores meant Wearn dropped to third place overall behind Filip Jurisic (CRO) when a second drop came into play.

Matt Wearn wearing the leader's jersey on the final day - Thom Touw pic
Matt Wearn wearing the leader’s jersey on the final day – Thom Touw pic

Each of the Australians had their highlights throughout the week. Today alone, West Australian Ethan McAullay (ASS) scored a fourth in the final race to place sixth overall and Finn Alexander (ASS) from NSW was second in that race to finish 10th overall.

These overall results are personal bests for both sailors, marking the first time that either of them has placed top 10 at the Europeans. Zac Littlewood (ASS) also sailed well, but a Black Flag cost him dearly today.

Wearn, who won the 2018 and 2019 European Championships, said after racing, “It’s been a long week and a tricky one, between the conditions and race management. A testing event.

“It’s been an OK week for me, It’s been a while since I did any racing in big fleets, so it’s good to get exposure,” he remarked on the first European event for the Australians since last season.

“I know I have a few things to sort out for next the next event.”

Three races were sailed in an east-nor’ east breeze that clocked closer to the east by the second race and to the south-east by the time Race 3 started following two General Recalls.

“There were big pressure differences in the races. Down to 6 knots at times and up to 14 to 15 knots. It was super tough, which you can see from the different competitors scores, although some managed to sail well all day,” Wearn said.

Mara Stransky - a study in concentration - Tom Thouw pic
Mara Stransky – a study in concentration – Tom Thouw pic

Mara Stranksy ended the ILCA 6 Championship in seventh place, but her day consisted of diverse results of third, 19th and 38th in the final race, which was used as her second drop.

“I don’t know what happened,” the Queensland sailor said of her final day’s results after an otherwise good regatta. “I only got off the line well once – in the first race. The last two races were tight at the boat end, they were jammed up, so I went further down and then came a big right shift – it was hard.”

Zoe Thomson (AST) finished 11th overall, missing out on 10th place on countback. Along with Elyse Ainsworth (ASS), the three have pushed each other hard all week, while Casey Imeneo (ASS) showed moments of brilliance.

ILCA 6 coach, Carolijn Brouwer, agreed the week had not been an easy one for the Australians: “It’s probably been one of the most difficult sailing weeks they have done since I’ve been involved, because the sailing was tricky and the race management was not good.

“I started to wonder did we do the right thing coming here. It’s been really cold and light. It looked like we would not get many races, so having 10 (out of the planned 12) is a bonus.

“In the end, I’m glad we came, we got a lot out of it. The girls had a good summer in Australia, but it’s an eye opener going from racing in a fleet of 25 boats to racing the big fleets in Europe. You are punished for small mistakes, so it’s about minimising them and sailing consistently.

Elyse Ainsworth (left) and Zoe Thomson off the start - Thom Touw pic
Elyse Ainsworth (left) and Zoe Thomson off the start – Thom Touw pic

“It’s rewarding to see the Squad doing so well. I think we have a lot to be proud of. The girls are lifting each other’s games. It’s a good start to the year and good to get the first racing nerves out of the way. They can now build on doing well in Palma and Hyeres,” Brouwer said of their upcoming European events.

The next event for the ILCA 6 and ILCA 7 classes is the Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma, Spain, to be held from 31 March to 8 April, 2023.

The ILCA Europeans were organised by Circolo Nautico Andora (CNA) and EurILCA.

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

ILCA 7 Gold fleet final results – 10 races (two drops)

3rd Matt Wearn (AST) 1, 3, 2, 4, 5, 2, (17), 16, 2, (21) = 48 points

6th Ethan McAullay (ASS) 3, 19, 13 20, 6, (33), 3, 14, 12, 4 = 74

10th Finn Alexander (ASS) 9, 11, 5, 9, 14, 5, (31), 29, 18, 2 = 91

25th Luke Elliott (ASS) 17, 6, 6, (20), 17, 22, (58), 11, 28, 31 = 138

44th Zac Littlewood (ASS) 22, 28, 2, 17, 13, 1, (53), 56 (63), 63 = 227

ILCA 7 Bronze fleet final results – 9 races (one drop)

1st Stefan Elliott-Shircore (ASF) (52), 49, 19, 43, 1, 1, 17, 1, 1 = 84 points

ILCA 6 Gold fleet final results – 11 races (two drops)

7th Mara Stranksy (ASS) 6, 4, 4, (14) 9, 9, 8, 12, 3, 19, (38) = 74 points

11th Zoe Thomson (AST) 7, (21) 5, 13, 8, 12, 7, 15, 8, 10, (18) = 85

17th Elyse Ainsworth (ASS) 6, (23), 6, 7, 18, 5, 14, 10, 9, 30, (41) = 105

25th Casey Imeneo (ASS) 15, (47), 25, 12, 7, 6, 31, (32), 25, 7, 25 = 153

For full results go to: https://2023-senior.eurilca-europeans.org/#

By Di Pearson/AST media

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