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There will be a tight finish to Monday's battle for the single European qualification spot on offer at the 49er European Championships in Vilamoura, Portugal.

After 12 races since last Wednesday, in some difficult light air conditions, Ireland and Italy are in eighth and ninth overall, only separated by 3 points pending any protests.

Dubliner's Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove are holding a top ten place as the championships enters its medal race finale on Monday with a Paris 2024 place at stake.

Sunday's racing proved difficult in a disappearing sea breeze. Dickson (Howth YC) and Waddilove (Skerries SC) took a fourth place in the opening race of the day, a 14th and 15th places followed and they slipped from sixth place overnight to eighth.

At the same time, Italians Simone Ferrarse and Leonardo Chiste moved up from eleventh to ninth place and follow the Irish boat by a gap of three points.

"That was a tough day; it was hard to get the strategy right,' said Dickson after racing ended. "Considering the conditions and Gold fleet, we're pretty happy with it."

Just one nation place for Paris 2024 is being decided at this regatta, with one-time Paris place leader Belgium along with Germany also able to mount a challenge on the final day.

Much depends on the weather and whether the full schedule can be sailed on Monday.

A further fleet race is due before deciding the final top ten boats to compete in the high-scoring medal race final.

Ireland's Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove survived the scramble to stay in the gold fleet qualification battle at the light air 49er Europeans Championships in Vilamoura, Portugal today.

For the five teams (including Ireland) in the battle for the sole qualification spot for next year’s Olympic Regatta, today’s racing was a make-or-break moment in the competition. As the final results were posted on the scoreboard, sailors and coaches were refreshing the page on their phones to see who had made the cut for the top 25 and Gold Fleet, and who had missed out.

Dickson (Howth YC) and Waddilove (Skerries SC) improved from 18th overall to 13th thanks to third and fourth places for the day while their discard took care of an 18th. 

Ireland's second crew in the competition also had their best day so far, but ultimately Séafra Guilfoyle with Johnny Durcan (Royal Cork YC) were unable to break into Gold fleet despite jumping from 60th to 38th place thanks to three solid results for the day including a fifth place.

Medallists at the past two World Championships, Diego Botin and Florian Trittel don’t expect to have to be checking whether they’ve made the cut for Gold. But it’s been that kind of week for the Spanish superstars, and quite a few other big name teams too.

Today was a much better day for the Spaniards who posted 8,3 from their qualifying group. When all the results were in from all three qualifying groups, it seems the Spaniards had done enough, scraping through in 22nd place and 6 points ahead of the German team in 26th. Normally 26th is the worst spot in a 49er regatta, but a quirk in the transition to the new 49er sails has given a bonus chance to Fabian Rieger and Tom Heinrich (GER) who, are the lone member of the 14-boat-strong German squad to squeek into gold fleet. Patryk Kosmalski with Tomasz Lewandowski (POL) sailed a wonderful qualifying series and made the gold fleet standard in 23rd overall. However, as they are youngsters in their first major championship, they are still using the old, transparent sails. By rule, only teams using the new sails may pass through to gold fleet so they have been relegated to Silver allowing the 26th place Germans into Gold.

With Erik Heil and Thomas Plœssel now retired from 49er competition, it would be unthinkable not to have a German representative following in the footsteps of the double Olympic bronze medallists. Except this is Olympic competition, and there is no tougher continent from which to qualify than from Europe.

Of the nations chasing the one Olympic spot in Vilamoura, highest placed are the Belgian team of Yannick Lefèbvre and Jan Heuninck, who are in 7th place overall.

Meanwhile Simone Ferrarese and Leonardo Chistè have kept Italian dreams alive as they responded to the pressure and posted scores of 5,1 to move into the Gold Fleet and up into 19th place overall. There’s still enough racing in the final three days for the Italians and others to overtake the Belgians for the golden ticket to Paris.

Also into gold fleet are Ireland, and Portugal, making five nations vying for the European Olympic berth. Maltese sailor Richard Schulties has also qualified to gold fleet but he is sailing with Frenchman Yoann Bertinn, and therefore they are ineligible for games spots at this event.

Three days and up to nine races remain in the series that will decide the medal race on Monday.

All teams not qualifying at the Hague or continental qualifiers will have to wait their turn at the ‘Last Chance’ regatta next April. That’s at Semaine Olympic Francaise in Hyères when there are five last-gasp Olympic berths up for grabs.

Best performers of the day were the young Spanish brother Martin and Jaime Wizner. A stellar performance of 2,1 lifts them to 3rd overall and within striking distance of the lead. Now topping the 49er standings are Ben Bildstein and David Hussl who are banishing the demons of a difficult year with an outstanding command of the tricky conditions. Just a point behind the Austrians in second place are the Polish duo, Dominik Buksak and Szymon Wierzbicki.

Having missed Paris 2024 Olympic qualification at the first opportunity at the Sailing World Championships in August, two Irish crews are vying for the one nation place on offer at the 49er European Championship in Vilamoura, Portugal.

Racing from this Wednesday, November 8th, until Monday, 13th, front runners Robert Dickson (Howth Yacht Club) and Sean Waddilove (Skerries Sailing Club) missed qualification by one place in The Hague but aim to close out the year with nation qualification in the bag.

It might be billed as a European Championships, but the great and the good of the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 classes will be in Vilamoura. Sailors from any nation can enter – so expect to see some big names, including two-time 49erFX Olympic gold medallists Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze of Brazil in action. The full entry lists can be found here.

As Tokyo reps, Dickson and Waddilove are expected to make the standard, but it has been a bit of a snakes and ladders year for the north Dublin duo, who have struggled with starting but otherwise have great boat speed.

Carding

Seafra Guilfoyle with Johnny Durcan (Royal Cork Yacht Club) Photo: Clare KeoghSeafra Guilfoyle (left) with Johnny Durcan  both of Royal Cork Yacht Club Photo: Clare Keogh

Ireland's second boat in Vilamoura will be the Cork Harbour pairing of Seafra Guilfoyle with Johnny Durcan (Royal Cork Yacht Club), who, at the very least, are seeking a top 20 result overall in the 90-strong event to meet Sport Ireland carding scheme criteria and regain a place on the Irish squad.

Royal Irish sailor Saskia Tidey has been selected by Team GB for Paris with helm Freya Black and will be in action in PortugalRoyal Irish sailor Saskia Tidey has been selected by Team GB for Paris with helm Freya Black and will be in action in Portugal

Saskia Tidey

Royal Irish sailor Saskia Tidey will also be in action in Vilamoura. The Royal Irish sailor who sailed for Ireland in Rio but switched to GB for Tokyo and has been selected by Team GB for Paris with helm Freya Black. Without any internal selection battles going on, the GB sailors will be free to focus 100 per cent on their international adversaries.

There was bitter disappointment at the Allianz Sailing World Championships at The Hague today after Tokyo 2020 Olympians Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove missed the first chance of Olympic Nation Qualification for Paris 2024 in the Mens Skiff discipline.

The Howth and Skerries duo looked on course to take one of the first Paris spots midweek when they were as high as sixth overall in the 49er class, but today's performance will be agonising for them as they ended their 15-race series in 14th place overall after counting a black flag disqualification (their second of the championships) in race 14. 

While the Olympic nation qualification in The Hague represented the best possible preparation for Paris 2024 and the best indicator that Ireland is in the medal hunt, Irish 49er campaigners, which includes Royal Cork's Seafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan, have two remaining opportunities to make the Marseille startline next July. These are the 2023 European Championships in Portugal in November and a final 'Last Chance' qualification regatta just weeks before the Games itself.

The Irish crew suffered a last place in Wednesday's opening race that was delayed till the afternoon due to light winds. They could have carried that result except that they incurred a Black Flag starting disqualification in the penultimate race in which they placed second.

Had their result not been disqualified today, they would have achieved both the medal race top ten and Olympic qualification for Ireland at the first attempt.

Meanwhile, the Irish pair's training partners Bart Lambriex and Floris van der Werken (NED) have won 49er gold before Friday’s medal race. 
 
This is the Dutch team’s third consecutive world title, and for Lambriex the sweetest so far. 
 
“The level of the fleet was the highest we’ve seen, we’ve done it on home waters, and we have qualified to go to the Olympics,” smiled Lambriex.
 
“I’m proud of how Floris and I have dealt with the pressure this week. We didn’t sail so well yesterday and we were a bit behind the Spanish at the start of the day. We expected a big battle with them but then we saw their name on the board at the end of the second race.” 
 
Unfortunately for Diego Botin and Florian Trittel they had fallen foul of the black flag, disqualified for starting a fraction too soon. 
 
“This made our job a bit more straightforward,” said Lambriex. 
 
The Spanish hold second place but will have to sail well in the medal race to keep silver ahead of the Swiss team of Sebastien Schneiter and Arno de Planta who are just 4.2 points behind in third place.

The following countries have qualified for the games in 49er.

  1. Netherlands
  2. Spain
  3. Switzerland
  4. USA
  5. New Zealand
  6. Poland
  7. Great Britain
  8. Croatia
  9. Denmark
  10. Austria

Italy, Germany, and Ireland are the next three placed countries who have missed qualifying.

Also, Australia is now guaranteed a spot based on New Zealand qualifying, and there only being two competing nations in Oceania, and one spot awarded at the Oceania Qualifier. Canada also sets up well, as the USA has qualified early, leaving one spot for North America at the Pan Am Games, and only Canada and Mexico remaining in North America.

In a tough spot are the Asian nations and, to some extent South America. Asia has the most nations remaining, and with none qualifying so far, they must all fight for a single spot at the Asian qualifier in Thailand this December. South America will also have a tough battle, with Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and potentially Peru all seeking out a single spot in the Pan Am Games. All teams not qualified by the end of the continental qualifiers must aim for one of the three at-large berths at the last chance qualifier in April 2024.

The medal race will be on August 18th, and there will be a solid battle for the silver medal between Spain and SUI, with the British, Kiwis, and Americans having a shot at the bronze.

Results here

Ireland's 49er pair Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove have had a Super Saturday at the World Sailing Championships in The Hague, their 1, 3, 2 results scored pulling them into fifth overall and keeping Paris 2024 Olympic Qualification plans on track despite a first-day disqualification.

The stunning Irish result – achieved in some blustery conditions with big seas – was only second in the fleet to Bart Lambriex and Floris van de Werken (NED), who, aiming at the threepeat, launched themselves into the lead.

"The whole day we had good speed, plus (good starts) and we perhaps only left one point out there," said Skerries-based Waddilove.  "We can't really get much better than that."

The Royal Cork 49er crew of Seafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan Photo: Sailing EnergyThe Royal Cork 49er crew of Seafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan Photo: Sailing Energy

Ireland's second 49er crew of Seafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan are lying 40th in the 83-boat fleet. They had a capsize while leading the fleet in the second race.

Lambriex and van de Werken are back in form, shifting into first place overall in very tough conditions. The pair were second in the first race of day two, and then won the remaining two races, rising to the occasion as the breeze built to the edge of sailability. If the understated Dutch pair can win again, this time on home waters, it would be the second time any 49er team has managed the threepeat after global legends Burling and Tuke (NZL) did it from 2018 through 2020.

They almost managed something harder, winning three races in a day at an Elite 49er competition. They pulled of that feat on day 3 of the Test Event, something only done once by Burling and Tuke and once by Wadlow and Rast in recorded 49er history (race results pre-2008 are hard to find)

Lucas Rual and Emile Amoros (FRA) scored a 5, 1, 1 and moved into seventh.

There are three qualifying fleets of 49er, meaning nine daily wins are available. As usual for 49er qualifying, the points are incredibly close to qualify for gold fleet. If the split were to happen today, five teams would squeak into the top 25 on 41 points, while Wang and Qi (CHN) who were sitting in third overall last night, would miss out on 42 points. Three more races are scheduled for day three, after which the fleet will be split into gold, silver, and bronze.

Ten different nations currently make up the top 10 overall, and as a reminder, the top 10 nations in this regatta, excluding the pre-qualified France, will earn berths in Paris.

The 49er fleet was the last on the water and got the biggest conditions of the regatta so far.

Further fresh and blustery conditions are expected for Day 3 before a rest day on Monday though the forecast for the remainder of the week is currently suggesting lighter weather.

Results are here

Additional reporting from the 49er class association

A black flag disqualification may not have been the best start to Olympic qualification for Dublin 49er duo Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove at the Allianz Sailing World Championships at The Hague in the Netherlands on Friday, but the Howth-Skerries duo showed the depth of their ambition by bouncing back with a second in race two. 

As Afloat reported previously, six Irish boats will be in action for ten days, where places for Paris 2024 are up for grabs but conditions are tricky with fluctuating winds and strong tidal currents.

The skiff classes started the series, and the Irish Tokyo 2020 representatives appeared to have nailed their first race start along with the Dutch training partners and defending world champions until the dreaded black flag was applied to the Irish hopes.

The Cork 49er crew Seafra Guilfoyle with Johnny Durcan of the Royal Cork Yacht Club delivered two top-half fleet results for their first day with up to six further races remaining to decide the crucial Gold, Silver and Bronze fleet splits where a top ten result will be required to take a Paris place.

Royal Cork 49er crew of Seafra Guilfoyle with Johnny Durcan of the Royal Cork Yacht Club Photo: World SailingRoyal Cork 49er crew of Seafra Guilfoyle with Johnny Durcan of the Royal Cork Yacht Club are racing in The Hague Photo: World Sailing

After three races sailed, Dickson and Waddilove lie 24th and Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan 59th in the 83-boat fleet.

Ten nations, excluding France, will qualify for Paris, and nations have a rooting interest in other nations from their continent as a quirk of the qualifying system. For example, if China and Korea were to finish in their current positions, they would not need to qualify at the next stage, the continental qualification, opening up greater opportunities for other Asian nations. The case is likewise in the Americas and Oceania, which will all have teams on the bubble of Olympic qualifying. The International 49er class has rated Dickson and Waddilove's chances of qualifying as 'on the bubble' as Afloat reports here.

American prowess

America's Nevin Snow and Mac Agnese (USA) won two of their three qualifying races to share the overall lead as their American teammates are also each in the top twelve, setting up the USA well for Olympic Qualifying.

America's Nevin Snow and Mac Agnese (USA) won two of their three qualifying racesAmerica's Nevin Snow and Mac Agnese (USA) won two of their three qualifying races at the World Sailing Championships Photo: World Sailing

Snow is the US college sailor of the year and has had flashes of brilliance in the 49er but also an up-and-down career so far. In teaming up with Mac Agenese, a member of the 2019 America’s Cup American Magic Team, he’s formed a stable partnership and an upward trajectory on his Olympic sailing career.

Also winning two races were Diego Botin with Florian Tritell (ESP), fresh off their seminal Sail GP win, to sit tied with the Americans on two points overall.

Three teams are tied for third at this early stage, with Wang/Qi (CHN), Fantela brothers (CRO), and Przbytek/Piasecki (POL) each on four points. 19 nations sit within the 25-place cutoff for gold fleet, showing the increasing depth of 49er racing globally. Asia has had its best-ever day in the 49er, with China, Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, and India all making the gold fleet standard. Asia has been purchasing 40% of the world’s 49ers since 2012, and as the depth and focus have improved, now the results are too.

Meanwhile, a female Irish 49erFX debuted on the women's course with Erin McIlwaine (Ballyhome Yacht Club) with Ellie Cunnane (Tralee Bay Sailing Club), completing their first three races at senior level.

Irish interest continues with the skiff events on Saturday.

Results are here

All 10 Olympic classes will be competing in the 2023 Sailing World Championships in The Hague over the next week. The 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 all began on Friday (11 August), with the Nacra 17 Medal race on Thursday 17 and the skiff medal races next Friday 19 August.

This is the first opportunity to qualify for Paris 2024, and the International 49er Class Association has taken a deep dive into the fleets to predict who is most likely to grab the spots.

Among the Irish sailors in the Netherlands are 49er pair Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove, no doubt looking to top their performance in last month’s Paris 2024 test event.

And the international class has taken notice, rating the duo as ‘on the bubble’ and saying they “are at times right at the front of the action, but are also highly inconsistent. Will we see them at their best?” More on the Worlds predictions HERE.

So far, the most unpredictable class of the Paris 2024 Test competition has been the 49er, with six winners in as many races, including an Irish win for Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove in Race 3.

Isaac McHardie and William McKenzie (NZL) took the final win of the second day of action, and that was enough to move into top spot, ahead of Sébastien Schneiter and Arno De Planta (SUI) on countback, with the pair both on 27 points.

However, with the next four teams all sitting between 30 and 32 points, including third place for Mihovil and Sime Fantela (CRO), the 2018 world champions, the Kiwis are well aware of the precarious nature of their position heading into the rest day.

McHardie said: “It was a super tricky day, it was unbelievably shifty with big puffs and big lulls so it was all about getting off the start line, it was a bit of a left-hand track, so you needed a good start, and then go left, that made for an ok race.

“I’m sure there will always be a target on the back, but we’ll go out there and race our best. It’s not a bad place to be coming into a rest day. It was always about coming here to do the best we can, so to come into a lay-day in first, we’re pretty stoked.”

The 49er fleet has a scheduled day off on Thursday as the ten fleets share 4-course areas in this Field of Play Test.

More from the 49er class association here and a (glitchy) results link here

Irish 49er duo Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove scored a race victory in the opening races of the Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing Test Event.

Mihovil and Sime Fantela (CRO) also enjoyed a strong start on the opening day of the 49er competition, a first and third giving them a three-point advantage over three pairs tied on seven points.

Those are reigning world champions Bart Lambriex and Floris van de Werken (NED), Sebastien Schneiter and Arno De Planta (SUI), and Isaac McHardie and William McKenzie (NZL).

The remaining two victories on the day were taken by James Peters and Fynn Steritt (GBR), and Dickson and Waddilove (IRL), who sit ninth and 10th, respectively overall.

Results are here

Tagged under

Tokyo 2020 Olympians Robert Dickson (Howth Yacht Club) with Sean Waddilove (Skerries Sailing Club) return to competition in the 49er Men's skiff event at Allianz Regatta in The Netherlands this week after a period of illness and a year after achieving a podium result at the same event.

As Afloat reported last year, Ireland's top-ranked skiff pair fought off French competition to win the 49er medal race and win their first World Cup silver medal at the 2022 event.

More recently, however, the pair have struggled with speed issues, so the 2023 Allianz Regatta will be an important test just months before the Paris 2024 Olympic qualification event in August.

They told supporters recently: "Some big ups and downs for us at this year's Princess Sofia. We headed into Gold Fleet in the overall lead but struggled to perform in the lighter winds".

Royal Cork Yacht Club's Seafra Guilfoyle and Johnny Durcan will also compete. The Crosshaven pair aim to improve their starting processes and can expect up to 12 races over the next five days.

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