Finn Lynch well placed for Tokyo spot after three top-10 finishes
Carlow Laser class sailor in coaching mode for youth championships in Crosshaven
James Dwyer Matthews from Cork leading the opening race of the Optimist class trials at the Irish Sailing Youth Nationals at the Royal Cork Yacht Club. Photograph: David Branigan/Oceansport
Fresh from delivering his third successive top 10 finish in the Laser class at a world class event, the latest in Genoa last weekend at the Hempel Sailing World Cup series, he is well placed on a glidepath towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
But in Cork this week, he is in coaching mode and on the delivery end at this regatta.
More than 200 sailors from around the coast have gathered for the annual Irish Sailing Youth Championships and Lynch is coaching the Laser 4.7 sailors.
Now ranked 15th in the world, he is in demand not just at home but abroad with various top training groups trying to persuade him to join their ranks.
The reason for this is the consistent form he has achieved over the past four months, first at the Miami Olympic Classes Regatta, then in Palma for the Princess Sofia Trophy and most recently in Genoa.
It is form that everyone in Crosshaven might aspire to.
This regatta was once known as the pathway series as it promoted the stages towards senior level and a possible place in the Olympic squad.
Lynch and many other Olympic aspirants have been through this stage of the cycle – the place where the cream starts to rise to the top.
But for most competitors, the motivation is as much about competition as a shared and social experience with friends.
The series got under way yesterday afternoon in what was to be a long day afloat of almost seven hours for some classes as fickle winds and ebb tide frustrated race officers Peter Crowley and Anthony O’Leary.
But the pressure was on to deliver races, at least three but preferably four on the opening day as various predictions of up to storm force winds were being made for Friday and possibly running into Saturday.
That would just leave Sunday to complete the series and before 2pm as the event rules do not allow starts after that time.
But three races were sailed in a steadily freshening breeze with sunshine and clear leaders were established in several classes.
In the Optimist trials event at the championships, being used to decide national squads for continental championships, James Dwyer Matthews from the RCYC and Kinsale opened the event with an emphatic race win and followed this with fifth and second-place finishes to leave him with a slender three-point lead.
Among older single-handers, a hat-trick of consistent second places among the Laser Radials for Howth’s Jamie McMahon wasn’t quite good enough to edge ahead of Cork’s Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin who included two race wins and a third place to lead the 28-strong class by a single point.
Just 10 boats have turned out for the start of the 420 event, the only double-handed dinghy competing in the series.
Nicola Ferguson of the National Yacht Club steered into the lead of the class with a third and two wins for the day.
Weather permitting, the full event will turn out for the remaining series to include more Optimists, Laser 4.7 rigs and Toppers.