Finn Lynch from Carlow is with the Irish Sailing Team who are getting ready to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Qualifiers.
This is the second and penultimate opportunity for Ireland to qualify for the Olympic Games.
Finn Lynch, Liam Glynn and Ewan McMahon are all competing in the ILCA Laser Standard Men’s World Championships in Sakaiminato in Japan which starts on 4 July.
· Finn Lynch from Carlow was Ireland’s youngest helm ever to compete at an Olympic Games when he sailed at Rio 2016. Lynch was also the U19 World Champion in the Laser in 2014, and silver medallist in the 2012 Youth World Championships (Laser Radial)
· Liam Glynn, from Bangor, Co Down was Bronze medallist at U21 World Championships in Laser in 2018 and Topper World Champion in 2013
· Ewan McMahon, silver medallist at the Laser Radial Youth World Championships in 2016
There are only five Olympic qualifying places available at the competition, which sees 159 competitors from 58 countries.
Speaking in advance of the Men’s event, James O’Callaghan, Irish Sailing Performance Director, said: “Both Finn and Ewan have had a great season so far, but a World Championships is always a level above all regattas. Given that there are Olympic places at stake it will be a case of staying focussed until the very last race of the championship. We’ve had the team on the ground early to acclimatise and preparation has been going well.”
Ten qualifying places at the Women’s Laser Radial Championships
The men’s competition in Japan will be followed by the Laser Radial Women’s World Championships on 19 July, when Ireland’s Aoife Hopkins and Aisling Keller compete for their qualifying places.
· Aoife Hopkins, from Howth, Co Dublin, who was the European Champion for U21 Laser Radial in 2017
· Aisling Keller, from Tipperary, a silver medallist in U21 Laser Radial European Championships in 2017 competes against Aoife in the Laser Radial.
FIVE MINUTES WITH FINN LYNCH
Former Olympian FINN LYNCH is one of Ireland’s sailing Olympic hopefuls in the Laser class. Next week he will be competing at the Olympic qualifying event in Sakaiminato, Japan, where he has a chance to qualify Ireland for a place at the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020. Finn was Ireland’s youngest helm ever to compete at the Olympic Games (in Rio 2016), he was U19 World Champion in the Laser in 2014 and was silver medallist in the 2012 Youth World Championships (Laser Radial).
The Laser is a small, one-person dinghy which has been used at the Olympics since 1996. It requires a high level of fitness and stamina.
Comes from: Carlow
Sailing club: National YC
Occupation: Full-time sailor.
How did you get into sailing?
My Dad went out on a boat with a work colleague of his in Australia – which is where we grew up – and when we moved back to Ireland, when I was two or three, my eldest brother started to do sailing summer courses. It was natural for me to take it up – I started summer courses when I was seven or eight up at Blessington Lakes, sailing Toppers. (Toppers are small, one-person dinghies, good for children to sail, and easy to spot by the top hat on their sails).
My brother is six years older than me – there’s another middle brother – and we all sailed Toppers. That’s what really helped me along because I was sailing with these guys three years older than me. My eldest brother really helped a lot – he was on the Irish squad – I’d sit in on his briefings, go out on the rib with the coach, soaking up all the knowledge – by the time I was 13 I was the little whizz-kid of Topper sailing.
What do you like most about sailing?
The thing I like about sailing is the full-on athlete life. Sailing ticks all the boxes – fitness, nutrition and a total immersion in the sport. It’s a relatively simple sport, but I think the simpler the sport is the harder it is to be an expert at it, to be one of the best in the world.
What’s your goal, as a competitive sailor?
My goal in sailing is to win a gold medal for Ireland in the Olympics.
You train really hard – how do you keep motivated?
It helps that I love sailing and the gym work and the cycling. 80% of the time it’s not hard for me to do the sessions.
But then when you’re tired or not feeling motivated, it’s more difficult. I’ve started to get a lot of pride recently, now that my results are getting better, from representing Ireland. There are so many sailors here and I’m representing all of them when I’m competing in a regatta abroad.
It’s a definite motivator me that there’s so many people back home looking at my results – they might not think it affects them, but it definitely makes them happy when they see an Irish guy going in a cup medal race.
What’s the biggest challenge in what you do?
The biggest challenge of Laser sailing is the competitiveness of it. So many people have dedicated their lives to Laser sailing and only got to 40th or 50th in the world – but I don’t see that as a bad thing. I don’t want it to be easy, because it’s more sweet when you actually do perform more.
I’d say the biggest challenge with me is probably the travel. Sometimes it’s hard to be away from my girlfriend for long periods, so, yeah, that’s probably the hardest part. I know the obvious answer would be not going out with the rest of 22-23 year olds, but that’s not really a problem with me.
As a sailor, you have to be incredibly fit – do you watch what you eat?
Because I do so much volume it’s not unheard of to have sugar or excess fat – for example yesterday I did a four hour bike ride and a two hour sail in strong winds – after you’ve burned that much calories you can pretty much eat anything you want. Our nutritionist is there to make sure it’s balanced and to help with the stuff we have off-water. The nutritionist has been a really good help for Japan – obviously the food is very different out there and he’s been doing a lot of research and giving us a lot of tips.
What do you do in your spare time – supposing you have any?
My girlfriend is Norwegian so anytime I’m off or not in a training camp either she comes to Ireland or I go to Norway – other than that, I’m hanging out with my brothers or meeting up with friends back home.
My interests are mostly sporting – a bit of cycling and we’re quite big into the rugby in my family. We’ve got a season ticket for Leinster, so I go to quite a few matches. I also like music – big part of my life – but yeah, it’s mainly sports.
What would you want people to know about sailing?
It would be good for people to understand more what the training regime is for myself, for Annalise (Murphy), for Ryan (Seaton) and Seafra (Guilfoyle) the 49er guys, to know it’s a sport, not a hobby – that could probably bring in a few more competitive people.
I think after Annalise’s success (Annalise Murphy, silver medallist at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games) it’s becoming more and more known as a sport, and hopefully over the next one or two Olympic cycles more people will recognise that sailing is a serious sport.
Maybe someone should publish our fitness tests up against other athletes!