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Ireland’s Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove ended in eighth overall at the Olympic 49er World Championships in Mussanah, Oman today (Sunday 21 November).

The Paris 2024 campaigners, who also competed at Tokyo 2020 earlier this year, were unable to repeat some of their earlier form from the series on the final day, placing 12th in the last Gold fleet race before ending the medal race in eighth to secure the same overall standing.

Bart Lambriex with Floris van de Werken of the Netherlands are the new 49er World Champions, having dominated the series to win even after disqualification from the final fleet race. Watch the final day’s racing below:

Dickson and Waddilove — who sail out of Howth Yacht Club and Skerries Sailing Club respectively — secured seven top-three results, including two race wins during the 16-race championship,

But the Dublin skiff pair’s overall score was hindered by some mid-fleet results in the tricky, light-wind conditions experienced at the venue.

In the medal race final, their boat-speed was hampered when the mainsail hoist loosened, forcing them to re-hoist which effectively ended their hopes of a podium result.

Meanwhile, a 15th place in the final race of the series for the new Royal Cork pairing of Séafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan landed them in 20th overall, marking a strong debut performance with some notable individual race results.

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Two third places for Paris 2024 campaigners Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove at the Olympic 49er World Championships in Mussanah, Oman today (Saturday 20 November) have boosted their chances ahead of tomorrow’s final.

After a challenging day on Friday when the Dublin skiff pair — who sail out of Howth Yacht Club and Skerries Sailing Club respectively — slipped to 11th overall, they opened Saturday’s round with a 16th place before coming back strongly with two third places.

Dickson and Waddilove now stand fifth overall and within reach of a podium finish, with Sunday morning’s single race to decide the top 10 boats for the high-scoring medal race final.

Few of the leading boats escaped the conditions entirely with big scores across the fleet leading to a close championship series.

Meanwhile, the new Royal Cork pairing of Séafra Guilfoyle with Johnny Durcan counted a 10th place as their best result for the day. The Crosshaven crew slipped back a little in the standings to 21st but still count achieving Gold fleet as their successful debut regatta together.

Sunday’s schedule will feature a final fleet race to end the main series, with the top 10 boats going into a single final race that counts for double points to determine the championship and podium places.

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The opening three races of the Gold fleet series proved exceptionally challenging for the Irish crews at the Olympic 49er World Championship in Mussanah, Oman today (Friday 19 November).

Although the late start to the series saw slightly more breeze than previous days, racing continued until just after sunset, adding an extra factor for the 25-strong fleet.

Paris 2024 campaigners Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove (Howth Yacht Club and Skerries Sailing Club respectively) dropped from fourth overall going into the series and out of the top 10 after an uncharacteristically poor day for the pair.

A 17th in the opening race initially dropped the pair to ninth place. However, they won the start of the second race and placed third which allowed them to recover to eighth place.

However, the final race saw them end in 22nd place to leave them 11th overall with two days remaining in the series.

Meanwhile, the new Royal Cork pairing of Séafra Guilfoyle with Johnny Durcan were the better of the two Irish boats for the day, counting a fourth place behind Dickson and Waddilove and their first day of Gold fleet racing has already seen an improvement to their standing in the event.

Their score moves them up to 19th overall on their first foray together at a senior world championship regatta.

Three races are scheduled for tomorrow, followed by two races on Sunday to decide the top 10 boats overall for the medal race.

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After the third day of qualification racing in light and flukey conditions, both Irish Paris 2024 campaigners will race in the top half or Gold fleet in the Olympic 49er skiff class Worlds Championships in Mussanah, Oman on Friday. 

Tokyo 2020 sailors Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove have slipped back from third to fourth place overall after scoring a 14th plus two top six results for the day.

The new Royal Cork pairing of Séafra Guilfoyle with Johnny Durcan saw three 14th places land them inside the top 25 boats to make the gold fleet cut, a significant achievement at their first World championships.

Conditions were once again light, around eight knots and delivering wind shifts of 20-25 degrees.

Eight more races are scheduled over the coming three days with the top ten finalists due to end the series with a medal race on Sunday afternoon.

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Tokyo 2020 stars Robert Dickson and Sean Widdlove of Howth have suddenly got competition with the announcement of a Cork Harbour rival campaign for Paris 2024 in the men's 49er skiff dinghy.

Both young members of the Royal Cork Yacht Club and UCC Sailing Club, and past pupils of Presentation Brothers College, Séafra Guilfoyle (25) and Johnny Durcan (21) have already started a rigorous training schedule with the Irish team for the Olympic qualifiers, which commence in August 2023.

Séafra Guilfoyle, who hails from Myrtleville, will be helm, steering the 2-man boat. The UCC economics student has recent experience competing for a berth in Tokyo 2020 with double Olympian Ryan Seaton of Belfast Lough where they missed out on qualification. It’s his dream to represent Ireland at the Olympics and Seafra says he’s ‘determined to reach Paris 2024’.

Both Séafra and Johnny started sailing at the age of 7 and 8 respectively and had great success at youth level. Séafra represented Ireland every year from the age of 12 to 18, winning multiple nationals and medalling at world championships and winning silver in the youth worlds in 2014.

Johnny represented Ireland on the international stage from the age of 11. He was top-ranked in Optimist sailing by the age of 13, a National Laser Champion at 14, a European Junior 29er Champion at 15, and winner of the European and Irish Nationals at 16.

Séafra says that he’s proud to partner with Johnny, as he is not only a fantastic athlete but an ‘inspiration’, following his near-death experience when his boat capsized at the 29er world championship in Long Beach, California, in 2017. It was only the quick action of his fellow competitors that saved his life. “Johnny was as comfortable sailing as he was walking. He was one of the firm favourites for the Laser Radial Worlds that year. It took him a while to get back out on the water after this, but not only did he pick himself back up, he has excelled and got back to the top of his game and is now about to embark on an Olympic campaign.”

Launch party - A dolphin joins in the Guilfoyle/Durcan launch party in Cork HarbourLaunch party - A dolphin joins in the Guilfoyle/Durcan launch party in Cork Harbour

Their rigorous training schedule demonstrates this commitment. Séafra and Johnny have been training together almost seven days a week since May 2021, primarily in Dublin with the Irish team, their coach, and trainers, and back home at the Royal Cork.

Guilfoyle Durcan Sailing, as they are now known, will compete in their first competitive race this winter when they head to Oman for the World championships.

Séafra Guilfoyle (left) and Johnny DurcanSéafra Guilfoyle (left) and Johnny Durcan on the Royal Cork slipway

They feel their competitive advantage in the Olympics will be their youth, their long-time friendship having come up through the sailing ranks together, their geographical proximity to each other, Johnny’s training experience with Annalise Murphy, and the fact that Seafra already has four and a half years’ experience in running an Olympic campaign behind him.

“The fact that we live so close to each other when we’re both at home, makes it easier to train outside of the official team Ireland training schedule”, says Johnny. “We’re both young and at the height of our fitness, and Seafra brings a lot of experience and learnings from his last campaign.”

Colin Morehead, Admiral at the Royal Cork Yacht Club said, “We’re incredibly proud of these two talented and ambitious athletes, who are one of the youngest Irish senior teams to ever compete for the 49er Olympics.”

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Howth Yacht Club and Skerries Sailing Club Olympic skiff duo Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove have had a pre-Olympic boost by taking second overall at the 49er Championships in Cascais, Portugal.

It's not the only boost for Irish Skiff sailors either with the Royal Irish's Saskia Tidey taking sixth for Team GB in the 49erFX with partner Charlotte Dobson of Scotland.

As regular Afloat readers know, the Howth debutantes put the zing back into the Irish Olympic sailing scene in March when they put double Olympian Ryan Seaton to the sword to win the last available Olympic place in Tokyo this summer. 

The weekend international result from Portugal (with three race wins) represents another significant step forward to July on Enoshima Bay for the duo that previously won Under 23 World Championship Gold three years ago.

Cascais blows up some very breezy weather and as heavy airs are predicted for the Japanese Olympic venue, it gave the Portuguese Championships extra meaning.

Even with the Howth duo's immaculate boat handling it wasn't all plain sailing to the silver medal position. The strong winds on day one presented a sail tearing challenge as CN Cascais/Luis Fraguas's photographs reveal.

Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove

Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove

Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove

On the last day of the 2021 Cascais 49er & 49erFX Championship after a stormy morning, the sun shyly appeared and filled the bay of Cascais with light. The championship could not have ended in the best way with the Cascais Bay delivering the best for the Olympic sailors, its fantastic conditions for sailing. In these fabulous conditions, the Olympic sailors had the day most similar to the sea conditions of Sagami Bay, in Tokyo, with a large and wide wave. The last day was reserved for the medal race for both fleets. This is a single race for each class, 49er and 49erFx. This regatta is special since it was double points for the overall with only the ten best competitors in each division being eligible to race.

The first Medal Race was for the male Olympic skiff class, which started at noon as scheduled. The race course at that time was in a northwest wind and 14 knots in intensity.

The big winners of the championship in the Olympic class 49er were the North Americans Nevin Snow and Dane Wilson who led the leaderboard for a couple of days. Irish youngsters Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove were runner ups. In the lowest place on the podium were the North Americans Ian Barrows and Hans Henken.

On their journey to Tokyo in July, Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove were runners up in CascaisOn their journey to Tokyo in July, Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove were runners up in Cascais

After the Men's Medal Race, it was the ladies' turn to take the stage in Cascais. With the weaker wind that made the wind shift on the right more prominent for the 49erFx class race.

Lutz and Beucke had a conservative race having finished the final race in fourth place, this result being enough to overtake Echegoyen and Barcelo by one point and thus conquer the highest place on the podium in Cascais. While Denmark and Holland were glad to compete in the medal race regatta for the supposed third place, the team from Brazil also had a very successful regatta having finished in second place. This good result from Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze was enough to leave the northern European teams out of the podium in this championship. Grael and Kunze ended their show in Cascais in the third position of the overall.

Top ten, 49er

1. Nevin Snow / Dane Wilson, USA, 52.0
2. Robert Dickson / Sean Waooilove, IRL, 54.0
3. Ian Barrows / Hans Henken, USA, 60.0
4. Marco Soffiatti Grael / Gabriel Borges, BRA, 67.0
5. Jorge Lima / Jose Costa, POR, 84.0
6. Revil Theo / Tim Depery, FRA, 94.0
7. William Jones / Evan DePaul, CAN, 101.0
8. Hippolyte Machetti / Sidoine Dantes, FRA, 123.0
9. Robert Solune / Sipan Valentin, FRA, 128.0
10. Joshua Richner / Nilo Scherer, SUI, 141

Top ten, 49erFX

1. Tina Lutz / Susann Beucke, GER, 83.0
2. Tamara Echegoyen / Paula Barcelo, ESP, 84.0
3. Martine Soffiatti grael / Kahena Kunze, BRA, 86.0
4. Annemiek Bekkering / Annette Duetz, NED, 90.0
5. Marie Baad Nielsen / Marie Thusgaard Olsen, DEN, 91.0
6. Charlotte I Dobson / Saskia Tidey, GBR, 92.0
7. Kimberly Lim / Cecilia Low, SIN, 133.0
8. Tanja Frank / Lorena Abicht, AUT, 137.0
9. Isaura Maerhaub / Anouk Geurks, BEL, 141.0
10. Helene Ness / Marie Renningen, NOR, 174.0

 Full results here

In July 2022, one of the largest sailing championships of the year will be held in Aarhus since the Sailing World Championships in 2018. 

The regatta will be one of the important milestones for the Paris Olympics 2024, just three years away.

From 5 to 10 July, three of the classes will thus revisit Aarhus for the European Championships in 49s, 49erFX, and Nacra 17.

As regular Afloat readers will know, there is a new force in Irish 49er sailing since March, the month in which young guns Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove put double Olympian Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle to the sword to claim the last available 49er place for Tokyo

Up to 200 crews from over 35 different nations are expected to compete in 49er, 49erFX, and Nacra 17 in Aarhus, representing a major hosting of an international sailing championship by Denmark. 

Aarhus has previously hosted the Hempel Sailing World Championships, and The Ocean Race 'fly by' in 2018. In 2021, a 29er World Championships, and a SailGP are in the pipeline, while 2023 will be the year of the first Danish stop-over in The Ocean Race's history.

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It looks like Ireland's newly qualified 49er Tokyo pairing of Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove will be making a trip to Canada in 2022 if they continue their skiff campaign for Paris 2024.

Nova Scotia will host a 400-strong field of the world’s best sailors from over 35 countries when the World Championships for three Olympic classes, the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17, kick off in September 2022. Taking place in Canada for the first time in its history, the competition will be held on St. Margaret’s Bay during the six-day event.

Sail Nova Scotia won the rights to host the 2022 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships, which will run September 6-11, 2022, in partnership with Hubbards Sailing Club, St. Margaret Sailing Club and Sail Canada.

Building on Nova Scotia’s long-held affinity and connection to the sea, the province is gaining a reputation in the sailing world as an accomplished host of national and international sailing events. The event will be held on the waters of St. Margaret’s Bay, which has played host to numerous national and international sailing events over the years. These waters make an excellent venue for the championship. The venue has clean water and moderate to strong consistent winds in a spectacularly beautiful setting.

It says everything about the quality of the Dickson-Waddilove team's securing of the Tokyo Olympics 49er place, that it not only sent the spirits of the Irish sailing community soaring skywards, but in these difficult times, it helped to raise the mood of the nation generally.

The inspiration has been heightened by knowing that the path of the "Flying Fingallions" to a Tokyo place has been specially challenging. They'd a carefully planned route towards a serious challenge for a full Olympic challenge in 2024. But their unexpected yet convincing victory in the U23 Worlds in September 2018 saw a re-alignment of objectives, with a new programme towards Tokyo which was in turn upset by the Pandemic-induced year's delay in the 2020 Olympics.

It became a continuous character-testing situation in which the two seemed to find new reserves of mindset and performance which, last week in Portugal, produced a showing which went far beyond the minimum required, and was rounded out by a victorious showing in the Medal Race.

We could not ask for more worthy winners of the latest "Sailors of the Month" award.

Read more about this new Tokyo Olympic duo here

Published in Sailor of the Month

With Ireland's Olympic place secured in fleet racing, Robert Dickson (HYC) and Sean Waddilove (SSC) showed a clean pair of heels to the 10-boat fleet and propelled themselves back onto the podium with a medal race win at the 49er Olympic Qualifying regatta in Lanzarote.

An unusual southerly wind, dying towards the end of the race, put a premium on position on the racecourse. Coming off the middle of the line, the Irish boat took the favoured left side on the first beat and rounded the weather mark first, never to be headed despite a strong challenge from the Dutch team. It was the lightest conditions that had been experienced all week for the final two legs, with not only directional shifts but considerable velocity shifts ensuring constant changes to sail and boat trim.

It rounded off a great week for this young team, winners of the 2018 49er Junior World Championship. Now they are booked on the Tokyo flight, and the quality of the performance in Lanzarote suggests that they are well up to the Olympic challenge.

Final Top 3 at Lanzarote International RegattaFinal Top 3 at Lanzarote International Regatta

Published in Tokyo 2020
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