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SAILING: Irish sailors make solid start to World Championships as Olympic selection contest begins

26 Jan 2024
Sarah Stanley

Both Irish sailors competing in the ILCA7 world championships in Adelaide today (Adelaide, Australia Friday 26th January 2024) made good starts to their six-day series with Finn Lynch (National Yacht Club) scoring two top ten results in the 153-strong field.

The Carlow Olympian (Rio 2016) who qualified Ireland for the Paris 2024 Olympics last August is facing a selection challenge from Ewan McMahon (Howth Yacht Club) for the single place in the men's single-handed event at Paris 2024.

While Lynch scored an eighth and a fourth in the opening day's two races, his Dublin rival had a 24th place before bouncing back with a ninth place in race two.

"Finn did a decent day and the goal is to have top tens in the qualifying races especially as there's just one discard for the whole event," commented Irish Sailing's Laser coach Vasilij Zbogar.  "Ewan had one good race and one average but he proved that he can be in front - he just needs a little more consistency in the coming races."

While Lynch is the sole member of the current official Irish Sailing senior squad competing this week, McMahon last year mounted an independent campaign to regain his place in the team and win the selection trial for Paris 2024.

Maximising points at this early stage of the regatta is essential as the 153 competitors are split across three qualifying fleets to determine the Gold fleet line-up for the finals series that begins on Monday.

"We had beautiful wind for the first day but very challenging and physically demanding long races - hard for the sailors," said Zbogar.  "Definitely everyone is taking as little risk as possible as the first three days are the most important for qualifying."

Securing a Gold fleet position is vital for both Irish boats though a top ten overall finishing place is essential for a place in the medal race final to decide the podium outcome when the event ends on Wednesday (31st January 2024).