Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

afloat blog header

Irish sailing enters the dock

13th June 2008
Irish sailing enters the dock
With only 57 days to go the Olympic regatta Irish sailing enters the dock tomorrow for an appeal over one of its nominations and, as it was for Athens, it is the Star keelboat selection that is in deep water.

It was never going to be an easy passage to the Olympic regatta in Qingdao because subjective crew selection is always destined for a rocky shore.

Slow and lumbering, whatever this oldest of Olympic craft lacks on the water, it continues to make up for ashore with selection spats capsizing sailing's Olympic preparations here for more than a decade.

On this occasion, the fight is over the right to represent Ireland at a venue that has little or no wind; where many countries are already condemning the outcome in Qingdao a lottery.

It has not dulled enthusiasm for participation from Ireland however with two
Irish Star boats already embarked to China on the back of a ship.

But it is the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) and not the Irish Sailing
Asociation (ISA) that takes the helm tomorrow (Saturday) when it hears
arguments from Max Treacy and Anthony Shanks on why they and not Peter
O'Leary and Stephen Milne should be the Irish nominees in the Star class.

The ISA will be present at OCI headquarters to defend its unanimous decision
to send a team both younger in age and experience but one it, and many
Sailors, consider full of promise.

The decision, made six weeks ago, was a committee one, which the ISA claim
it was entitled to make under its nomination policy. Given the way in which
selections were handled in 2004, it is easy to see why the association wrote
this process for 2008.

And in making this decision they followed an example of the most successful
sailing nation at the last two Olympics primarily because of trials cock

There are good examples of subjective selection paying dividends in the
short term but the price of success - because of perceived bias, real or
otherwise - can be a deterrent to others entering the sport into the future.

What sailor (or his commercial sponsor) would commit to a four-year
campaign in which the outcome depended on someone else's choice rather than results?

Tomorrow's appeal will be the first rigorous test of the policy - Treacy
goes to Howth with a legal team comprising a solicitor and a senior counsel
and whatever the outcome it will more than likely shape future qualification
for London and beyond.

In its selection the ISA overlooked Treacy's higher ranking and he will
argue this fact – plus the fact that it was he and not O'Leary who qualified
the country at the Miami World championships in April.

But beyond the examination of the merits of either crew lies the honour
which Ireland earned when it qualified for a place in China.

Because sailing has been unable to provide the OCI with a clear nomination
with 57 days to the Olympics, could the OCI decide to send neither crew,
thereby forfeiting Ireland's place?

It is a highly unlikely outcome because the OCI, more than most, recognises
the value of the Irish slot so it will be incumbent on all parties tomorrow
to ensure Ireland continues the remarkable journey begun in Barcelona
1992 by Royal Cork's Mark Mansfield of four consecutive Olympic appearances in the class.

Because 75% of all Irish sailing is undertaken in keelboats, this
controversy has great significance for the majority of Irish sailors. Since
the nomination six weeks ago it has gained considerable online comment. This
week, the website, under the heading 'Star Wars', is polling readers to choose who they would send to China.

Ahead of tomorrow's hearing both parties have agreed that the OCI will be
the final arbiters but the pre-eminence of the Court of Arbitration for
Sport (CAS) is also recognised. The appeal outcome is not expected to be
released immediately.

Out of all of this the the prospect of a medal or at least a top eight
finish (not seen since Tallinn 1980) remains a possibility for Ireland, not
least because of the unsuitable light air nature of the venue that, as every
sailor recognises, can make champions of rank outsiders.

Inevitably so there will be a winner and a loser tomorrow but for Irish
sailing's sake the hope must be, that out of all of this, a Star will be


Foxall confirmed as watch captain for VOR

Irish sailing's worst kept secret ended yesterday (Thursday) afternoon with
confirmation by Green team skipper Ian Walker that Kerry's Damian Foxall
will be part of it's line up as a Watch Captain for October's Volvo Ocean
race around the world.

One of two Irish entries in the 39,000 mile race, The Green Team's
appointment of Foxall came as part of its full crew announcement, with four
members having sailed the course before.

The crew also includes Wexford's Justin Slattery and Ian Moore of
Carrickfergus as navigator.

The full Green team sailing squad members are: Ian Moore IRL, Navigator;
Damian Foxall IRL, Watch Leader; Justin Slattery IRL, Bowman; Tom Braidwood
AUS, Trimmer/Driver;  Andrew McLean NZL, Bowman; Phil Harmer AUS,
Trimmer/driver; Scott Millar IRL Trimmer; Freddie Shanks GBR, Bowman.

Published in Editors Blog Team

About The Author Team

Email The Author is Ireland's dedicated marine journalism team.

Have you got a story for our reporters? Email us here.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven't put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open. is Ireland's only full-time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

Comment from Ireland's team of marine journalists

Blogarama - The Blog Directory blog directory Blog Directory

You can add site to improve your website reputation We added our site under News and Media Directory