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Bermuda sailor Lenny DeSilva primed for European Championship

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Lenny DeSilva, front, and helmsman Jan Van Maercke in action in the 49er (Photograph supplied)
Lenny DeSilva, right, and helmsman Jan Van Maercke (Photograph supplied)
Lenny DeSilva preparing to sail in the 49er (Photograph supplied)

Lenny DeSilva is looking forward to beginning a new chapter in his sailing career at the European Championship in Vilamoura, Portugal, next month.

The regatta promises to be a truly memorable one for the Bermudian sailor, who is primed to make his debut in the 49er class as well as competing alongside Belgian helmsman Jan Van Maercke in the double-handed high-performance skiff.

“I am very excited to compete but also mildly intimidated,” DeSilva told The Royal Gazette.

“To be honest we have some work to do, and I am not going to lie about that. I am under no illusion that we are going to be at the top from the very beginning, but we are going to do our best.

“We have long term ambitions for the 49er and this is simply the first step.”

The 33-year-old teamed up with Van Maercke this summer after the opportunity became available.

“Jan used to sail with his brother, but his brother moved to Australia which left him empty-handed,” DeSilva added.

“He was looking for a partner to sail the boat with and I saw his post on social media and responded to that.

“We went out for a practice sail back in July and decided to team up with each other.”

The pair have been going through their paces in Portugal this week in preparation for the European Championship, which also involves the FX and Nacra 17 classes and will be held from October 10 to 15.

“It’s a big step so that’s why we are trying to get some time out on the water,” DeSilva said.

“The boat is definitely more difficult to sail. It’s a lot faster and a lot more technical, so we are trying to get to grips working together as a crew.

“It’s just not my performance on the boat but a team performance, so we are working on doing manoeuvres properly and working together in synchronisation.”

DeSilva has enjoyed success in the Laser 4000 class, including when finishing runner-up at last month’s 4000 European Championships in France with helmsman Stewart Patience, before transitioning to the 49er.

“That was fun and I really enjoyed it,” DeSilva added. “It’s an informal sort of competition but I wanted to step up a level up and with the 49er I am definitely doing that now.

“I chose the 49er probably because it’s the most exciting boat to sail and it also has a really huge international fleet.

“It’s probably the best competitive double-handed Skiff. It’s highly competitive, the best sailors sail them and they are very fun to sail when you have everything set up right.”

DeSilva, who groomed his sailing skills in the Optimist dinghy in Bermuda before moving abroad, is following in the footsteps of siblings Jesse and Zander Kirkland, who represented the island in the 49er at the 2012 Olympic Games in England.

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Published September 13, 2023 at 5:56 pm (Updated September 13, 2023 at 5:56 pm)

Bermuda sailor Lenny DeSilva primed for European Championship

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