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Matthew Stranaghan

Matthew is a very avid sailor who tries to sail at every chance he can get. Last year Matthew sailed the Laser 4.7 locally in BC and in the US competing on the Grand Prix circuit. Last year , Matthew won the Laser Canadians in 4.7 at Royal Van and went to the Laser North Americans where he qualified for the 2015 Laser 4.7 Youth Worlds held in August at Medemblik Netherlands.

Matthew also enjoys keel boat racing and is always up for being crew. Last winter he crewed on Papillion in the Snow Flake Series. This past March he was part of a team from the Sunshine Coast that went to the 2015 Heineken Cup Regatta in St. Maarten where they finished 2nd in their fleet.

Now that The Laser 4.7 Worlds are over Matthew has moved to the Laser Radial class. He is currently ranked 8th out of 73 after 6 Regattas.

Matthew currently trains out of West Vancouver Yacht Club. 

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matthew's WVYC BLOG:

  • My Trip to the Laser 4.7 World Championships
    • My Trip to the Laser 4.7 World Championships

      by Matthew Stranaghan

      This year I switched from Laser 4.7 to Laser Radial on the B.C Circuit so I could get practice in big fleet starts and races. I did every BC Circuit event to get the most practice I could for Laser 4.7 World’s Aug 2015 in Medemblik, Netherlands. I am doing very well on the Circuit with most of my finish’s now being top 15 and right now I am tied for 8th out of 70 plus racers. I hope to keep improving on the BC Circuit at every race and as every season passes.

      Once summer started I switched back to my 4.7 to get ready for the Worlds. Every single day you could find me down by the dock, whether it was trying to find a ride for Wednesday night racing, doing learn to sail advanced courses or just sailing my Laser and pushing myself to be better. I sailed my Laser almost every day between June and August. I had several high wind days where I hit 15 knots in my Laser 4.7 surfing downwind as well as practicing roll tacks or acceleration and many other things on those light wind days.

      This year the Worlds venue was at Medemblik Netherlands. When I got to the venue I had 2 days to get some practice in before the start of racing. During my practicing it hit 25 gusting 28 and I also had 6 to 10 foot swells. Both days were awesome, fun and great practice. Since I was the only Canadian and only North American I would sail over and join the Brits or team Spain and get some fleet practice in.

      On the day of the practice race I didn’t think we were going to race because it was a steady 35 knots. I watched a 49er go out and absolutely trash themselves. By the time the practice race came it had calmed down to a steady 18 and 4-6 foot swells. I was preparing for the first race when a girl from Britain named Chloe came up and asked “Do you know what's going on?” I was just as confused as her so I ended up starting with the girls in the practice race. Then I realized what was going on and went back to the line. On our start, I was first row next to a few Brits and I heard them saying they're going and our fleet started at 1 minute from go for no apparent reason. The rest of the race was great fun. I was 30th out of 60 at the windward mark and half way through the race some coaches pulled their sailors from the race, again for no apparent reason, and I ended up finishing 13th.

      Qualifying races were tough for a number of reasons including extremely light winds with 5 hour on water delays. Day 1 of racing was a hard day. In the first race I was about to be first row 3 boats from the committee and a guy from Turkey came on Port and hit me. I lost first row and he got first row then did his turns. That didn't help me because it resulted in me being last off the start and I ended up coming second to last. At this level you can’t finish top 50 if you get a bad start. The second race I started at the pin end and was 20th until one person rolled me and I got stuck under them, and they wouldn't tack. This resulted had me coming last in that race. The second day we had a five hour postponement on shore and a 3 hour postponement on water, which was very tiresome. It was mentally very tough because my Dad had helped me prepare for the day and I was anxious to get started. When we eventually got started I was in 30th going around the leeward mark on a broad reach to the final mark when a sailor (not my first choice of what I would like to call him) from Portugal came from behind and his boom went over my head and his main sheet got caught around my neck. I looked into his eyes and yelled at him to come closer so I could get it off at which point he looked away and headed up, dragging me out of my boat. My boat death rolled. I had to swim to my boat. I went from 30th to 65th. I was so upset it was hard to focus for the next race. To make things worse we didn't get back on shore till 9:30 pm. If the Oman coach, who knows Karen Johnson, hadn't towed me in, I would've been out there till dark because the wind had died. One competitor from Mexico didn't make it back till half an hour after dark. I did protest the Portuguese sailor. He didn’t show up and the Jury was leaning in my favor when the Portugal coach came in as we were leaving the room. Five minutes later the Portugal coach came out grinning ear to ear. We were called back in and told because I was not physically hurt, requiring a doctor that there was no foul and would not be given redress. I am now versed in Rule 69 and if that wasn’t a gross display of unsportsmanlike behaviour I don’t know what is. We didn't make it back to our hotel till 1 am.

      The final races were when I performed my best out of the whole regatta. In the first of finals I went out with a fire burning inside of me though I contained it until the start of racing. I went out and ruled the line and took pleasure yelling at people when I was in the right. That day I got a 39 and a 44 and was so excited that they had been my two best finishes so far. The second day of finals I was 20th going downwind on the first lap but someone was covering me in 20 knots of wind but it only felt like 13. On a gust the person covering me moved and the full 25 knot gust hit me and I ended up sadly death rolling and went from 20th to 64th. I worked my way back to 59th. I can’t wait to use that move on some other unfortunate sailor in the future. The second race I just had a bad race but I got over it quickly, and said to myself I'm going to go out and have a great final race. But it took 16 starts to get all three fleets their final official race. I was having a great race and was in 5th halfway up the course when my vang broke and I nearly capsized and had to stop to jury rig it by using my mast retainer as a pin. Even though it seemed like it took no more than 30 seconds 60 boats passed me and I ended up in last. I fought back for the rest of the race to get to 54th. On the last day all I wanted was to go out and have a good race which I did. It was 24 plus knots and I worked so hard for the 42 I got and I ended the regatta with a great race which made me happy, especially since during the finals I never had a finish in the 60’s.

      I learned an incredible amount from this experience and would very much like a redo because I think I could place so much better. At that level you just can’t afford a single mistake. It literally is the difference between top ten and bottom ten because all the competitors are so good. Other things I learned include: Having a coach (even my Dad) on the water is extremely important mentally and physically, Having sailed in a 65 boat start has really improved my starts and I will never fear the BC Circuit starts anymore. Having a teammate out there just makes life on the water mentally easier overall. I learned so much by doing the Laser 4.7 Worlds and I’m so happy I ventured all the way to the Netherlands for a World class event and “put myself out there to be tested”!.

      I turned 13 years old 2 months prior to Worlds and raced with mostly 15, 16, and 17 year old participants. I am already applying my 2015 World’s experience racing with nearly 400 boats and 65 in a fleet start to BC Circuit events. At the recent, very competitive Whistler Regatta in August I had my best results so far in a Laser Radial. I have a good sense that I am doing many things right and will continue to improve my sailing skills, tactics and strategy to effectively compete in the years to come locally and on a world stage for West Vancouver Yacht Club and Canada!
  • 2016 Laser North Americans
    • 2016 Laser north americans

      by Matthew Stranaghan

      This year I went down to the Laser North Americans at Cascade Locks, Oregon in the USA with my coach and a fellow teammate. We had a couple of excellent training days before the regatta with a consistent 20+ knots of breeze for both days. It was excellent conditions to practice sheeting and wave techniques, which was crucial to doing well on the long downwinds that we would sail each race.

      Possible disaster was avoided the night before racing when me and my coach were trying to straighten my upper mast section. It snapped as it was old and weak. If we had not snapped it, it may have snapped and ripped my sail on day 1 as it was around 30 knots. That would not have been a great start to the regatta.

      Day one proved a challenge as I was struggling on my downwinds and had tactical troubles as the Gorge was proving a tough, but very fun venue. I had solid races despite having some issues and was mid fleet almost every race, which left me in a good spot mentally and results wise. On day two I was set to go out and have some great races as it was the last day of qualifying. I had another solid day of sailing and was proving to be faster on the downwind legs than the previous day, but I fell just short of qualifying for gold fleet.

      For the final two days of racing I was able to really bring it together and have all my races but two be top 20. I had really pieced together my starts in the finals, which was a really good thing for me mentally, as that was one of my goals. My best race was where I got off the start line and was battling it out for the lead and reached the windward mark in second, but the wind gods were against me, as I chose the wrong downwind path, and rounded the mark in 23rd. I had a good upwind and downwind and ended up finishing 18th.

      Overall I had a great regatta and learned much from sailing with some of the best in North America. It has greatly helped me on the BC Circuit, as in my latest regatta in Whistler, I had great starts and got my first two bullets (first place)! I’m really looking forward to next year’s Laser North Americans, which will be hosted by the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club in my hometown of Vancouver. Until then I am battling it out on the BC circuit and currently sit fourth in the Laser Radial fleet this year.

      Link to video