Finn Lynch’s feat caps successful weekend for Irish – The Irish Times

Last weekend saw emotional celebrations on the continent that are certain to be repeated in Dublin and Cork in the coming days.

For the second consecutive year a clutch of noteworthy championship wins are the toast of Irish sailing.

In 2022, it was Eve McMahon, for her hat-trick of Gold medals at youth and world level in the ILCA6 single-handed dinghy, and her Howth clubmate Rocco Wright, for Youth World success.

This Summer, in the space of 10 minutes last Saturday, Finn Lynch qualified Ireland for Paris 2024 at the Allianz Sailing World Championships in the Netherlands while a little further north, in Sweden, Ben O’Shaughnessy and Ethan Spain took Gold at the 29er skiff Europeans.

What is more, Lucia Cullen and Alana Twomey placed 10th and were the top female crew at the event.

Only a few weeks earlier the brother and sister double-act of Clementine and Nathan Van Steenberge won the 29er World Championships for their adoptive home country.

The sudden surge of top results at youth level in the 29er is welcome news from the pathway system that feeds junior sailing talent into the academy and ultimately the senior squads aiming for the Olympic Games.

Since Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey appeared in the 49erFX women’s skiff event, there has been a dearth of available talent to step into their shoes, a fact that heavily influenced Tidey’s decision to switch to the Great Britain team, with whom she is planning her third Olympic appearance.

But it seems the 29er skiff feeder fleet has been steadily building its capacity to deliver world class outcomes at youth level, similar to that achieved to the single-handers in the two ILCA dinghies.

That represents a long-anticipated rebalancing between the two disciplines of crewed and single-handed dinghies.

But the step-up to senior level further down the track is more akin to a vertical cliff ascent and recent graduations bear witness to the size of the task facing the ambitious youth sailors.

While there was zero expectation placed on Erin McIlwaine with Ellie Cunnane on their first foray at a major senior event in The Hague last week – they completed a full series and enjoyed the experience – the same cannot be said for McMahon, who has now had a full year at senior level in the ILCA6 women’s single-handed event.

She was hugely disappointed not to reach Gold fleet after a weather-shortened qualification round. Victory in her Silver fleet was not much comfort to her but will certainly fuel her determination to improve.

Lynch, too, could have been disappointed for not achieving at least a Medal Race final race position but he ,ade clearafter the series that qualifying Ireland for Paris had been his priority.

As he stepped ashore on Saturday thinking that he had failed in his mission, he broke down in tears when Irish Sailing’s performance director James O’Callaghan gave him the good news.

Sealing the moment, his mother Grainne Adams appeared on the slipway as a surprise and the intensity of months of training and preparation was lifted at last.

Around the same time in Stockholm, the 29er winners began their celebrations as all the Irish crews rallied around in support.

That spirit is set to continue this weekend in Schull, Co Cork when Academy coach Milan Vujasinovic hosts a special regatta at Irish youth sailing’s spiritual home, where many training camps are held.

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