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With just four races remaining at the Laser Radial World Championship in Japan, Ireland’s Aisling Keller and Aoife Hopkins are on target to secure Ireland's berth on the Tokyo startline in the Laser Radial class.

Both Keller (Nenagh, Co. Tipperary) and Hopkins (Howth, Co. Dublin) are placed 40th and 42nd in the 56-boat Gold fleet final round of the championship that started last Friday.

Hopkins had the stronger day on Monday with two top 30 results while Keller had two 42nd places, one of which she drops using the discard system. Another discard comes into force if the series achieves ten races.

Keller had been in 15th place in the second race but received a 'yellow flag' penalty for excessive propulsion technique and dropped back after taking the mandatory turn.

Conditions on Miho Bay, Sakaiminato have proven tricky for competitors and organisers alike with light, shifty winds delaying racing and causing the qualification series to miss one race.

Results here.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Both Aisling Keller (Nenagh, Co. Tipperary) and Aoife Hopkins (Howth, Co. Dublin) qualified for the Gold fleet final round at the Laser Radial World Championship at Sakaiminato, Japan earlier today (Sunday 21st July 2019).

The event is the penultimate qualification regatta for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the women's single-handed event sailed in the Radial.

After two days of light winds that put the championship behind schedule, the fleet had a protracted third day afloat for eight hours as the organisers staged three races to catch-up on most of the event schedule.

Both Keller and Hopkins had two good results apiece with an eighth and an eleventh respectively that leaves them 29th and 37th overall at the end of the qualification series for the 111-boat event.

A six-race Gold fleet series begins on Monday with two races scheduled daily before concluding the world championship on Wednesday.

A total of ten-nation places are available from the world championship for Tokyo with 14 countries in the Gold fleet all seeking one of the quota. Both Keller and Hopkins are currently inside the qualification standings.

"It was a challenging day to be consistent with winds ranging from fresh to moderate to light but flukey at all times," commented Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing's Head Coach. "The plan continues to be to sail one race at a time as a very tough Gold fleet final round lies ahead."

Results are here

Published in Tokyo 2020

Lough Derg Yacht Club's Aisling Keller continues to lead Irish hopes of Olympic qualification at the Laser Radial World Championships today.

Both Irish women competing at the World Championships in Sakaiminato, Japan achieved top 20 results as the pair aim to secure the single place for Ireland at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Aisling Keller (Nenagh, Co. Tipperary) had a 14th place while Aoife Hopkins (Howth, Co. Dublin) was 17th in the single race day for their 55-boat Blue flight.

The moderate breeze that the two qualification flights started in proved quite unstable and soon eased to near calm conditions. Plans for a second race were dropped.

As Afloat reported previously, a second day of slack winds on Miho Bay has put the qualification round behind schedule and while three races may be attempted on Sunday, the finals series must begin on Monday regardless.

Two races on Sunday would see the series discard come into force and allow Hopkins to drop her 34th place from the opening day to maximise her potential to achieve Gold fleet for the finals.

“We have good momentum now so I’m pretty happy that Aisling and Aoife have settled in,” said Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing’s Head Coach. 

Ten nation places for the women’s single-handed dinghy in Tokyo will be decided at this world championship in addition to the 20 already allocated from 2018 events. Either or both Irish sailors must first qualify for Gold fleet on Sunday and score well by Wednesday’s final race to achieve Irish qualification.

Published in Tokyo 2020

Aisling Keller of Lough Derg Yacht Club leads Irish hopes in chasing one of ten Olympic places at the Laser Radial World Championship at Sakaiminato, Japan today.

Near-calm conditions made for a tricky opening day where Ireland has two sailors aiming to qualify for the women’s single-handed event at the Tokyo Olympics next year.

Only one of two races was held and a big shift in wind direction eventually saw the course shortened after three legs.

The first three days of the event are qualification rounds with the 111 entries split into Blue and Green flights. Both Aisling Keller (Nenagh, Co. Tipperary) and Aoife Hopkins (Howth, Co. Dublin) are currently sailing in the Blue group.

National Radial Champion, Keller sailed well in the shortened race, reaching as high as tenth place with the leaders and consistently held a top 20 position to eventually place 16th for the first day.

The 40-degree wind-shift caught Hopkins on the wrong side of the course and she ended in 34th place with no opportunity to recover places when the race ended.

“Both our sailors are sailing well considering the conditions,” commented Rory Fitzpatrick, Irish Sailing’s Head Coach. “Aisling’s result is definitely a ‘counter’ but Aoife was unlucky that the race was shortened.”

Although the opening-day of racing faced light conditions, forecasts for Saturday suggest an improvement with around ten knots of breeze expected.

Ten nation places for Tokyo are available at the end of this event following the 20 places already allocated out of a total of 44 berths in the women’s event at the next Olympics.

Results here

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Jamie McMahon of Howth Yacht Club is back in the hunt after his disappointing start and counted 28,17, 7 yesterday to be 20th overall in the boy's Laser Radial fleet from 57 in Gdynia, Poland.

The Boy’s and Girl’s Laser Radial fleets only completed one race on opening day and sailed three on Tuesday to catch up on their schedule of races.

Ireland is represented in the Laser classes by Ireland's first-ever siblings with Jamie's sister Eve competing in the Girls class.  

More than 400 sailors from 66 nations are racing in Poland. Even to make it to the Youth Worlds is an achievement in itself with only one nation represented in each fleet.

Poland’s Tytus Butowski has come to the forefront for the home nation and grabbed the lead in the boy’s division. His 3-5-7-(10) scoreline positions him one point clear of Wonn Kye Lee (SGP) and a further two ahead of Juan Cardozo (ARG), the silver medallist from 2018.

In the Girl’s Laser Radial, 15-year-old Eve McMahon is 22nd from 47 after four races sailed. 

overnight leader Chiara Benini Floriani (ITA) had a mixed day with a 3-7-(22) scoreline but that was enough to hold onto the lead. Laser Radial Youth Girl European Champion Ana Moncada Sanchez (ESP) sailed beautifully, recording a 4-4-5 which positions her in second. Shai Kakon (ISR) is third.

Racing is scheduled to commence at 11:00 local time as the Hempel Youth Sailing World Championships reaches its mid-point.

Published in Laser
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There was an inauspicious start for Ireland's Jamie McMahon at the Youth Sailing World Championships in Gdynia, Poland today when the Howth Yacht Club youth was disqualified from the first race following a premature start.

McMahon was one of 11 in the 47-boat Laser Radial Boy’s fleet to incur the Black Flag penalty.

Finland’s Otto Dahlberg claimed the win. He was followed by Connor Nelson (USA) and Polish hopeful Tytus Butowski. 

After two days of preparation, boat work and practice, Monday signalled the start of the 49th edition of the Hempel Youth Worlds with 409 eager sailors from 66 nations ready to race across nine events.

In a light breeze, just one Laser Radial race was completed in both the boy’s and girl’s divisions.

In the Girls Radial, McMahon's sister Eve fared better and was 26th in her 47-boat fleet.

Results are here.

Radial youth worldsThe Radial dingy park at the Youth Worlds in Gdynia, Poland

Just one year ago, Italy’s Chiara Benini Floriani was sailing the Laser 4.7 in Gdynia at their World Championships. The Italian won the first race of that World Championships and later went on to win gold. She won the first Laser Radial Girl’s race at the Hempel Youth Sailing World Championships and was delighted with her start, "This is my first Youth Worlds. I’m using my experience from last year. I was able to understand a lot of things about this place last year and it’s certainly helped.

"Today was a little bit gusty and shifty. I started today’s race well and some boats headed to the right of the course. I stayed left and that paid off for me. It was between 7-8 knots with gusts up to 10 today. They’re my type of conditions. I like 11-12 knots normally."

Whether she can go on and replicate her Laser 4.7 Worlds performance is a question that will be answered on Friday 19 July when racing concludes.

Manon Peyre (FRA) finished in second and 2017 Laser 4.7 World Championship silver medallist Simone Chen (SGP) came in third, also drawing upon her own experience of the Polish waters.

Racing is scheduled to commence at 11:00 local time on Tuesday 16 July.

The Howth brother and sister are the first Irish siblings to qualify for the same Irish Youth Sailing Team.

Alongside the McMahons in Poland are Rian Geraghty McDonnell and Nathan van Steenberge (of the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire), read about their race win here, and Leah Rickard (from NYC) and Eimer McMorrow Moriarty (from Kerry’s Tralee Bay Sailing Club) in the 29er class.

Joining the team is Irish Sailing Laser Radial coach Sean Evans, and Thomas Chaix who will coach the 29ers.

Published in Laser
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George Kingston has won the Laser Standard division of the prestigious 2019 Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta by seven clear points overall.

The Cork native led the 11-boat series from Thursday's first race and counts five race wins from seven sailed.

As Afloat reported previously, the Royal St George sailor gave a masterclass in race management and consistency last weekend when he strolled to the Laser Leinster title in the waters off Rush.

Second overall is Kingston's clubmate Ross O'Leary with a third Royal St George sailor, Gavan Murphy, the Dun Laoghaire Laser Class Captain in third.

Published in RStGYC

Trading a few years of experience on your rivals isn’t a major problem when you’re on a run of form like George Kingston.

The Royal St George sailor gave a masterclass in race management and consistency last weekend when he strolled to the Laser Leinster title in the waters off Rush.

And the return to Dublin Bay clearly hasn’t broken his stride - finishing Day 2 of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta with three bullets out of three in the standard rig class.

Clubmate Ross O’Leary and Royal Irish’s Justin Maguire - both of whom were gearing up for a home challenge in the Master Worlds this time last year -  were left swapping second and third spots.

Justin Maguire Laser 2743Justin Maguire of the Royal Irish Yacht Club

Meanwhile in the Radial fleet, Marco Sorgassi tops a runners and riders list that he didn’t even appear on when it went to press, scoring a brace of race wins and a second place.

Rush’s Tom Fox - the only non-Royal St George-affiliated entry in the 10-strong fleet - lies second, with a comfortable five-point gap over next placed Sean Flanagan.

Published in Laser

There was disappointment for Ireland as Finn Lynch's 2019 bid for a Tokyo berth sank in the final races of the Laser World Championships in Japan earlier today.

Australia’s Tom Burton, the Olympic Gold medalist from Rio, took the title followed closely by teammate Mathew Wearn.

Ireland's Rio rep, Lynch (Bennekerry, Co. Carlow) was best placed to achieve qualification (the top five unqualified countries go through this week) but has ended the championship in 40th overall in the 148-boat fleet, 11th unqualified country and some 56-points off the tally required.  Results are here.

Ewan McMahon (Howth, Co. Dublin) placed a solid 50th for his debut at senior level world championship while Liam Glynn (Bangor, Co. Down) in only his second worlds made the top 100.

"For sure, the result is disappointing, especially after such a strong season," commented James O'Callaghan, Irish Sailing's Performance Director. "However, sport always has highs and lows, the key thing now is to bounce back and be ready for Genoa.”

Last Chance for Ireland in Genoa

Unfortunately, Ireland also missed out on qualification last year when the first 14 nation places were allocated at the 2018 World Championships in Aarhus. This represented 40% of the 35 boat Olympic Laser fleet.

The Laser Men’s European sailing teams who qualified in Aarhus 2018 were;

  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Great Britain
  • Norway

Six non-European countries also qualified for Tokyo in Aarhus. Those were;

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • New Zealand
  • Peru
  • South Korea
  • United States

In addition, Japan as a host nation automatically qualifies for the Games meaning 15 of 35 places were already booked coming into the pre-Olympic season.

In Japan today, a further five berths were decided between the 44 unqualified nations from 58 competing. These are: 

  • Sweden 
  • Argentina
  • Russia
  • Hungary
  • Guatemala 

This leaves 15 places to complete the Olympic fleet.

These will be available at Continental Qualification events throughout the remainder of 2019 and moving into 2020. Full details of how these places will be distributed are in the Tokyo Qualification System document that is downloadable here but for Ireland, the news is that there are just two European places left and these will be decided next year in Genoa.

The following five European countries, (who have still not qualified their country) all finished ahead of Ireland today so Ireland will have to overhaul all but one of these to win a Tokyo berth in Genoa next April 13-19. 

  • Slovenia
  • Switzerland
  • Spain
  • Netherlands
  • Belgium

It'll be a tough nut to crack especially as both Belgium and Spain beat Ireland at the 2018 World Championships too yet the Italian venue is where Lynch performed so well earlier this season.

Read Afloat's coverage of the 2019 Laser World Championships in one handy link here

Published in Tokyo 2020
Tagged under

Sixty five Laser Standards, Radials and 4.7’s from all four corners of Ireland gathered at the beautifully picturesque and recently refurbished Rush Sailing Club for what was a fantastically enjoyable weekend, both on and off the water writes Gavan Murphy

OOD, David Lovegrove and his capable crew had made the very wise decision to postpone racing on the Saturday by one hour to 12:30 pm to ensure boats were launching into a significantly weaker tide and deeper estuary.

Saturday started as an overcast, damp day with 3-4 knots out on the racecourse. George Kingston (RSGYC) showed superb race skills and consistency to take the overnight lead in the Standard fleet with two first’s and a second. Sean Craig (RSGYC), who wisely opted for the Standard rig in the lighter conditions, proved his mettle with a second and two thirds to take second overall going into the Sunday. Ronan Wallace, following his recent success in East Antrim at the Laser Northern Championships, continued his fantastic run of form going into Sunday just one point behind Craig in third place. Local Rush sailor, Aaron Rogers, was never too far behind the leading pack and was sure to cause an upset come Sunday based on Saturday’s form following a second-place result to his name.

Rush2The fleet return to Rush Sailing Club

In the Radial fleet, recently returned 29er Nationals sailors, Chris Bateman (MBSC) and Atlee Kohl (RCYC) showed superb form with two top three results amongst them on the Saturday, leaving them in first and third overnight. However, French sailor Martin Kowalsaki (Usamvoile Brest SC) showed he wasn’t visiting as a spectator following a first and third in day one, which put him in second place going into the Sunday.

In the 4.7 fleet, Iseult Hogan (RSGYC), showed her class with a second, third and first on day one taking her into top spot going into the Sunday. However, with Michael Crosbie (RCYC), just one point behind Hogan, Sunday would prove to be a very competitive affair. Hugh O’Connor (NYC) was also biting at their heels with a first and third on day one, leaving him in third place overnight.

On Sunday, Rush turned on its charm as sailors were greeted to wonderful conditions with a 6-8 knots northwesterly in glorious sunshine. Again, the race committee had opted to start the fleets an hour later at 1:30 pm on account of the strong tidal streams and water depth launching into the estuary.

In the Standard fleet, George Kingston showed his superb race management and match racing experience to cover and keep the challengers at bay with a fourth, and two seconds, finishing first overall. Aaron Rogers came to the fore on Sunday with a second and first to his name and squeezed Sean Craig out by just one point to take second place. Craig took third, just one point ahead of Ronan Wallace in fourth.

With just 4 points between them, the twenty-nine strong Radial fleet went unchanged on the Sunday following a superb set of results from Bateman (first), Kowalsaki (second) and Kohl (third).

The 4.7 fleet turned out to be a major reversal of results and fortune for some on the Sunday. Michael Crosbie showed some serious class with three firsts to take a very well-deserved first overall. Hugh O’Connor continued on from his success on the Saturday with two seconds and a fourth to take second overall. Alana Coakley continued her recent run of form to take third overall following a third and fifth on day two.

Many thanks to David Lovegrove and his team for their race stewardship and to Austin Hughes and his team for their hospitality in what was a most enjoyable weekend in a superb venue. 

Gavan Murphy is Dun Laoghaire Laser Class Captain

Published in Laser
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Page 1 of 44

William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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