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Craftinsure 2023 LEADERBOARD

Meet the 29er fleet #13 - Ben O'shaunessy and Ethan Spain, IRL

by International 29er Class 30 Sep 2023 15:08 BST
29er European Championship © Kristian Joos

This week we meet 2023 Men's and Overall European Champions Ben O'shaunessy and Ethan Spain who sailed a spectacular regatta to take home the Gold medals and catapult themselves into the spotlight.

How old are you both?

Ben: I'm Ben and I'm 17.
Ethan: I'm Ethan and I'm 18 since June.

How long have you sailed the 29er?

Ben: Starting in the summer of 2021, have sailed for two and a half years now.
Ethan: I've been in the boat for 3 years now but I only started sailing with Ben about a year and a half ago.

Tell us a random fact about yourselves!

Ben: I started sailing out of the oldest yacht club in the world, Royal Cork Yacht Club.
Ethan: I have a phobia of cooked eggs:(

What do you love about sailing the 29er and the racing?

The 29er class manages to incorporate close competitive racing and high speed into the one class which can be hard to find. And although things can get heated on the water everyone is super chill off the water and everyone ends up having a good time!

Who/what has inspired your successes/inspires you?

While we both look up to sailors in the 49er class and sailors who are going to the Olympics. The people that inspire us the most are our coaches and teammates who continue to keep pushing us even when things don't turn out the way we would have liked them to.

What are your strengths as a team? Who does what job in the boat and what are you both good at?

While sometimes we get frustrated at ourselves in the boat, one of our strengths is that we never get angry at each other. Ben is in charge of tactics and strategy, and Ethan is in charge of speed. And if one of us makes a mistake in our area the other person never uses it as an opportunity to get frustrated. And this always keeps a positive dynamic in the boat.

Why do you think you've been so successful in the 29er and what are your future goals in the class?

Our success in the 29er can really be put down to time on the water, amazing training partners, support from coaches and family. Even if we didn't have a coach we would always make sure we got on the water in some form whether it is in the the 29er or the FX. As well as this we trained with the Van Steenberge siblings who constantly pushed to us our limits and they went on to win the Worlds. So having good training partners makes a massive difference. And looking forward we hope to get a good result at the Youth Worlds before moving into the 49er.

Do you have any top tips for people just starting in the 29er, for fellow sailors, mixed teams and for those looking to improve their performance for next year?

I think our main advice would be to never get frustrated at where you're at - the 29er can be a super frustrating boat and sometimes it feels like your getting nowhere, but eventually you will always come out the other side as a better sailor and more knowledge. Like for myself (Ethan), I used to be horrible in light air but eventually after about 2 and a half years it clicked and now we're strong in the light air. So it takes time but if you keep cracking at it you'll get there.

What are your future sailing goals, dreams and ambitions?

Not too sure yet as we are still quite young, but 49ers are pretty cool and we like to sail them now alongside the 29er. We'd need to put a lot of weight on first though.

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