The Laser Senior European Championships & Open European Trophy got under way this week with a strong showing from Olympic sailor Finn Lynch.
The Carlow native secured a strong second and third placing in the opening two races to lie fourth overall in a line-up of 162 competitors which includes 48 or the top 50 ranked sailors in the world.
In total there are 334 laser sailors from 42 nations competing out of the picturesque Douro Marina in Porto. Amongst these are the five Irish Olympic hopefuls, including Aoife Hopkins, from Howth, Co Dublin, who was the European Champion for U21 Laser Radial in 2017; and Finn Lynch, who 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).
Also competing in the Laser are Liam Glynn, from Bangor, Co Down, Bronze medallist at U21 World Championships in Laser in 2018 and Topper World Champion in 2013; and Ewan McMahon, the silver medallist at the Laser Radial Youth World Championships in 2016. Aisling Keller, from Tipperary, a silver medallist in U21 Laser Radial European Championships in 2017 competes against Aoife in the Laser Radial.
Liam Glynn scored a 36th and 32nd places in the opening two races, closely followed by Ewan McMahon, who came 39th and 31st in a fleet that consisted of 162 competitors. In the Laser Radials, Aoife Hopkins finished 20th and 22nd in the opening rounds, and Aisling came 13th and then 42nd in a fleet of 120.
James O’Callaghan, Irish Sailing Performance Director said: “There is a lot of racing in this championship and thankfully Finn has got off to a great start on Day 1. The event is effectively as tough as the Worlds because the “Open” category allows non-european nations to race. It means every place is fought for tooth and nail but it is great exposure at this stage of the season and will help focus the minds on what needs to be done for Olympic qualification in July.”
The Laser Senior European Championships & Open European Trophy 2019 will run until 25th of May.