The ILCA European Championships 2021 start tomorrow in Varna, Bulgaria. The event is an important milestone for the Australian Sailing Team (AST) and Australian Sailing Squad (ASS) athletes who have their sights set on Paris 2024.
Fresh from Olympic glory, Matt Wearn will experience the regatta from the coaching boat and take the opportunity to coach the Laser Radial team in Varna.
Since the championship has been postponed from May this year to October, many of the Tokyo Olympics will not start. Wearn sees this as an exciting opportunity for the Australian women who are competing.
“Our sailors should get the chance to drive a little closer to the top of the fleet and warm up a little before the World Cup in December.” said Wearn on the eve of the competition.
“I trained with them (Laser Radial Team) a few years ago so it’s nice to see how they have developed.”
Tokyo Olympic champion Mara Stransky does not take off the accelerator. After a short break in Australia, Stransky has returned to the competition to continue the momentum of the last races of the Olympic Games, in which the 22-year-old sailor rounded off her regatta with 3rd and 1st place.
In the laser class, AST sailor Luke Elliot is looking forward to getting back into international racing. His last international hit-out was a top 10 placement at the World Championships last January.
“Being in Europe now feels great. It’s an opportunity for me to race for the first time in over 18 months and measure myself against the rest of the international competition, ”said Elliot. “I’m really looking forward to see what I can do this week.”
The laser team is being trained this week by former squad sailor and current Australian Sailing Pathway coordinator Ryan Palk.
“It was exciting to see how our Australian laser sailors are getting involved again with the international fleet after a long time away from European events.” said Palk. “To have the opportunity to compete with the best in the world again, the sailors have been looking forward to it for some time.”
The races will be held on the Black Sea, with a practice race for today, followed by qualifying from October 4th to 6th and the final from October 7th to 9th.
According to Matt Wearn, it should be an interesting regatta.
“Expect a little bit of everything this week.”
Australian Sailing Team (AST), Australian Sailing Troop (ASS) and other Australian (AUS) entries:
Luke Elliot (AST)
Finn Alexander (ASS)
Zac Littlewood (ASS)
Ethan McAully (ASS)
Mara Stransky (AST)
Elyse Ainsworth (ASS)
Casey Imeneo (ASS)
Zoe Thomson (ASS)
Paige Caldecoat (AUS)
Words: Lisa Darmani